Worldview Security Update – January 22, 2020
22-Jan-20

ASIA

Australia / China / Japan / Philippines / Singapore / South Korea / Taiwan / Thailand (Security threat levels – 2 / 3 / 1 / 4 / 1 / 2 / 1 / 3): As of 22 January 2020, Chinese health officials have publicly acknowledged 440 confirmed cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), with 17 known fatalities. Most cases have been reported in Hubei province, although at least one case in Macao and another in Hong Kong have also been confirmed. Travel to and from Wuhan has been suspended in an effort to mitigate the risk of human-to-human transmission. The restriction followed an earlier confirmation that the virus was capable of spreading through the respiratory system, although children do not appear susceptible to infection at this point.

China’s regional neighbors are setting up screenings and other precautionary measures, as authorities have publicly acknowledged a limited number of confirmed cases outside of China. At present, four confirmed cases of the 2019-nCoV have been reported in Thailand, as well as one confirmed case each in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the U.S. Additionally, health officials in Australia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam are monitoring travelers from Wuhan who have been exhibiting symptoms of the virus; however, no confirmed cases of the disease exist in these countries. North Korea has reportedly banned all foreign tourists from entering the country until further notice. Authorities have implemented health screening procedures at transportation hubs, including airports, as a precaution. Additional information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can be found here .

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): Large-scale demonstrations are set to occur throughout France on 24 January 2020 as part of an ongoing dispute over the government’s plans to reform the country’s pension system. While thousands of demonstrators have participated in previous actions, turnout is expected to be lower for the upcoming demonstrations, as fewer workers continue to participate in the strikes as of late. Union leaders have called for a “black out” of Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) and national rail operator Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF) services, which could close bus, metro, the Réseau Express Régional (RER) and other train services. In Paris, protesters plan to march from the Place de la République to the Place de la Concorde beginning at 1100 local time (1000 UTC), but authorities have not yet approved the route. Authorities are expected to increase security measures in the city due to an increased risk of violence from protesters; these precautionary measures include closing down shops along protest routes, conducting precautionary checks on random individuals and increasing police officer presence along protest routes. Travelers in France should avoid all areas where large gatherings are taking place due to the probability of violence occurring during the ongoing protests.

Additionally, air traffic controllers plan to observe a strike across the country from 1900 local time (1800 UTC) on 23 January to 0630 local time on 25 January. While no flight cancellations have been announced and no significant disruptions are expected, travelers should nonetheless contact their respective airlines to check the status of their flights.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Lebanon (Security threat level – 4): Overnight on 21-22 January 2020, riot police officers deployed tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters near Nijmeh Square outside the Lebanese parliamentary complex in downtown Beirut. Demonstrators responded by throwing stones, Molotov cocktails and fireworks toward police lines in a prolonged standoff with security forces deployed behind metal barricades. Protesters had gathered to show their opposition to Lebanon’s new government, headed by Prime Minister Hassan Diab. Reports regarding casualties remain undetermined.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

South Africa (Security threat level – 4): On 22 January 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria issued a Demonstration Alert ahead of an anticipated event outside the embassy on 23 January, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: U.S. Embassy Pretoria

“Event: A demonstration is expected outside the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria on Thursday, January 23, 2020, from approximately 10:00 A.M. until 2:00 P.M. The group intends to demonstrate in reaction to recent developments in the Middle East. Two lanes of Pretorius Street will be closed by police to accommodate the demonstration. Although local police will be present, disruptions to motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic are likely in the vicinity of the demonstration.

“Access to the visitor’s parking lot and visitor’s entry may be affected during the demonstration."