Worldview Security Update – February 5, 2020
5-Feb-20

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3) : As of 4 February 2020, at least 24,620 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) have been reported in 26 countries worldwide — with 24,418 cases in China (including Hong Kong and Macao) — and at least 494 fatalities. The National Health Commission in China reported that at least 3,223 of those stricken with the virus remain in critical condition.

Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macao have adopted additional procedures to manage the impact of the virus. In Hong Kong, all travelers arriving from mainland China will be quarantined for 14 days. Hong Kong residents are permitted to self-quarantine at home, while procedures for foreign nationals have yet to be announced. At present, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the Shenzhen Bay Checkpoint are the only two open border crossings. In addition, all ferry crossings among the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao have been closed. Hong Kong International Airport (VHHH/HKG) remains open and operational. Additionally, the deadline for civil servants to return to work has been extended to 16 February.

At least 21 countries — including Pakistan as of 5 February — and more than 75 airlines have imposed travel restrictions or flight cancellations to some degree for China, including Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific formally requested all employees — approximately 27,000 — to take a three-week unpaid leave of absence during March and June due to the financial impact of the outbreak on air travel. On 4 February the airline suspended about 30% of international and 90% of domestic flights. Furthermore, American Airlines suspended all flight operations to and from China between 4 and 20 February. In addition, United Airlines suspended all flight operations to China — Beijing Capital International Airport (ZBAA/PEK), Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (ZUUU/CTU), Shanghai Pudong International Airport (ZSPD/PVG) and Hong Kong International Airport (VHHH/HKG) from 6-20 February.

The U.S. and U.K. governments plan to evacuate their citizens out of Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, later in February. U.S. officials are planning to stage additional evacuation flights out of Wuhan Tianhe International Airport (ZHHH/WUH) on 5 February, whereas the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) plans to conduct an evacuation flight from Wuhan on 9 February.

Meanwhile, Japanese health officials reported at least 10 confirmed cases of the virus aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Authorities have traced the origin of the localized outbreak to a passenger who tested positive for the virus after disembarking in Hong Kong on 25 January. Approximately 3,700 passengers and crew will be quarantined aboard the ship in the Japanese port of Yokohama until at least 14 February.

The following countries maintain varying degrees of travel restrictions on Chinese nationals or individuals who have recently traveled to China: Australia, Bangladesh, Czech Republic, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.S., and Vietnam.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): Members of the Union Syndicale de l’Aviation Civile-CGT (USAC-CGT) are expected to observe a nationwide strike on 5 February 2020 as part of an ongoing dispute over the government’s plans to reform the country’s pension system. The air traffic controllers (ATC) strike is expected to last from 1900 local time (1800 UTC) on 5 February to 0630 local time on 8 February. The Directorate General for Civil Aviation for France has stated minimum services would be ensured and capacity adjustments would be made throughout the strike period. Thus far, no flight cancellations have been announced and the probability of significant disruptions is low, as the organizing group is not the primary union and has fewer members. Travelers should nonetheless contact their respective airlines to check the status of their flights.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Nigeria (Security threat level – 5): On the morning of 5 February 2020, dozens of drivers of motorcycle taxis — locally known as “okadas” — gathered in the Iyana-Ipaja area of northwestern Lagos to protest against a ban on the use of okadas. The protesting drivers burned debris, looted local market stalls and burned several vehicles, including one belonging to the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA). Police officers fired rubber bullets to disperse the group and attempted to seize several okadas from drivers who continued to operate despite the ban. There were no reports of major injuries among protesters or police officers during the clashes. Sporadic protests have occurred in several areas across Lagos — including in Aboru, Ijora and along the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway — since the ban took effect on 1 February. Okada drivers are likely to continue such protest actions in the immediate term. Travelers in Lagos should avoid all large gatherings to mitigate the threat of being collaterally affected by probable violence during such protest actions.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 5 February 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince issued a message for U.S. citizens regarding the upcoming Carnival season. The message reads in part as follows:
“Location: Port-au-Prince, Jacmel, and throughout Haiti

“Event: The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince informs U.S. citizens that carnival season has begun. The official Carnival dates in Jacmel are February 15-16, and February 23-25, 2020, in Port-au-Prince. However, many traditional festivities have already begun and will continue until the final day of Carnival.

“Official Carnival celebrations in Port-au-Prince will take place in Champ-de-Mars and downtown. This area is off-limits to Embassy personnel. Carnival activities are to be expected throughout Port-au-Prince, to include areas such as Tabarre and Petionville. Carnival-related inconveniences such as traffic, impromptu “Ra-Ra” bands in the street, road closures, crowds, etc. are to be expected with increasing frequency as official dates approach.

“Ra-Ra Bands will be out in the streets with increased frequency on Sunday afternoons and evenings leading up to Carnival. Band members may crowd around vehicles, block them in, bang on windows, crack bull whips, twirl knives and machetes, and make a lot of noise. It can be a potentially unsettling situation; generally speaking, bands remain non-violent. Ra-Ra bands will continue to be found in various parts of the city and countryside particularly on weekends through Easter.”