Worldview Security Update – January 28, 2020
28-Jan-20

ASIA

Cambodia / China / Germany / Mongolia / Russia / South Korea / Sri Lanka (Security threat levels – 3 / 3 / 3 / 1 / 3 / 2 / 4): As of 28 January 2020, more than 4,500 cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) have been reported across at least 30 provinces in China and at least 106 people have died from the virus thus far. Government officials are implementing measures to slow the spread of the virus. Chinese authorities are asking citizens to reconsider travel abroad, while local authorities in Hong Kong have encouraged civil servants to work from home. Additionally, authorities closed sports facilities and museums in Hong Kong indefinitely. Some businesses are extending the Lunar New Year holiday and others are postponing travel to the mainland. Beginning on 30 January, China will no longer grant personal travel permits for Hong Kong; the permits account for almost 50% of mainland visitors to the city. Non-Hong Kong residents will be charged for service received at Hong Kong hospitals. According to local authorities, the change is meant to discourage mainland citizens with the virus from traveling to Hong Kong. Express rail and direct trains to China from Hong Kong will be suspended starting on 31 January. Hong Kong officials will also cut flights to the mainland by 50% and suspend cross-border ferry services. Border checkpoints at West Kowloon, Man Kam To, Sha Tau Kok, China-Hong Kong City, Lok Mau Chau and Lo Wu will be closed.

China’s neighbors are taking precautions to prevent further spread of the virus. For example, the Mongolian government has announced the closure of its land border with China. Additionally, Russia has also closed borders with China in the Jewish Autonomous Region as well as the Khabarovsk and Amur regions. Furthermore, Russia will not accept Chinese tour groups. South Korean authorities closed schools temporarily in response to the coronavirus threat.

More countries are announcing confirmed cases of patients infected with the virus. The first positive cases of coronavirus have been reported in Cambodia, Germany and Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan authorities publicly disclosed that the infected patient currently hospitalized in the country is a Chinese national who arrived on 19 January. Following the confirmation, authorities suspended visa on arrival services for Chinese travelers, instead requiring the application for visas prior to travel. It remains unknown when visa on arrival services will resume.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): Demonstrations are scheduled throughout France for 29 January 2020 as part of an ongoing dispute over the government’s plans to reform the country’s pension system. Union leaders have called for thousands of workers to join the demonstrations, although they expect turnout to be lower than for previous such events. In Paris, disruptions to the metro and the rapid transit system, the Réseau Express Régional (RER), are expected throughout the day. Additionally, air traffic controllers plan to observe a strike across the country from 1900 local time (1800 UTC) on 28 January to 0630 local time on 30 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.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Nigeria (Security threat level – 5): On 27 January 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Nigeria, which reads in part as follows: “On 26 January 2020, a spokesperson for President Buhari announced the President had ordered air strikes in Niger state against criminal groups operating out of the Dogon Gona forest area bordering Zamfara and Kaduna states. If you’re planning to travel to Niger state, you should follow the advice of local authorities.”