Worldview Security Update – January 31, 2020
31-Jan-20

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): As of 1100 UTC on 31 January 2020, the number of confirmed global cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) had risen to more than 9,800 — an increase of more than 1,900 from the previous day — with approximately 130 total cases recorded outside of mainland China. Thus far, a total of 213 individuals have died from the coronavirus, all of them in China. At least 21 countries have confirmed cases of the virus, with two cases confirmed in the U.K. overnight on 30-31 January. Health officials in Germany, Japan, Thailand, the U.S.  and Vietnam have confirmed person-to-person transmission of the virus.

On 30 January, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern,” a designation that will increase the availability of resources to curb the global spread of the virus. The organization stopped short of issuing any recommendation on travel restrictions to China.

Multiple countries are taking additional measures to protect their citizens from the viral illness. On 30 January, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing issued a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory for China, urging citizens not to travel there due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus and urging those in the country to depart using commercial means. Germany advised against all travel to Hubei province as well as all non-essential travel to China. Vietnamese officials temporarily suspended travel visas to Chinese nationals and advised Vietnamese nationals against travel along the border area; authorities also asked Vietnamese airlines to suspend flights to outbreak areas in China. Japanese officials issued updated travel advice for China, advising against non-essential travel to the country; the Japanese government announced expanded screening and public health procedures beginning on 1 February. Saudi Arabia also advised its citizens against all travel to China. Moreover, Singaporean officials announced a ban of all Chinese nationals from entering or transiting through Singapore; additionally any traveler who has been in mainland China during the past two weeks will be denied entry.  Additional countries are likely to implement similar travel restrictions or advisories in the near term.

As reported in the previous edition of Hot Spots, a number of countries — including France, Germany, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand, the U.K. and the U.S. — are evacuating or have already evacuated their nationals from Wuhan. Most evacuees will remain in quarantine upon their return. Additionally, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing alerted U.S. nationals in China of a planned evacuation flight on 3 February. Interested citizens should contact "CoronaVirusEmergency@State.gov " with the following details: full name, U.S. passport number, date of birth, gender, email address, phone number and type of Chinese visa as well as the visa number and expiration date. The full text of the alert can be found here .

EUROPE

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): The United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union (EU) at 1100 local time/UTC on 31 January 2020. According to the withdrawal agreement between the U.K. and the EU, the U.K. will enter an 11-month transition period, during which the EU and U.K. are expected to formalize their future relationship through negotiated trade deals. The transition period is expected to end on 1 January 2021.
Analyst Comment: Although the U.K. is scheduled to formally leave the EU on 31 January, the U.K. will continue to operate under EU rules and regulations through the transition period. U.K. nationals will no longer be considered EU citizens, although they will retain the same rights and free movement through the EU until 1 January 2021.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Malawi (Security threat level – 3): On the morning of 3 February 2020, Malawi’s Constitutional Court is expected to issue a final ruling on a challenge to the May 2019 presidential election results. Two opposition candidates challenged the results of the election — during which incumbent President Peter Mutharika won a second term — and alleged widespread irregularities. Since the election, opposition and civil society leaders have organized sporadic protests and continue to demand the resignation of the chief official of Malawi Election Commission (MEC). Previous protests against the election outcome have garnered significant participation in major cities, including Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu, and have turned violent.
Additional security personnel will be stationed outside the Constitutional Court in Lilongwe on 3 February, and authorities will not allow members of the public within a 150 m (492 ft) radius of the courthouse building. Although opposition groups have not announced any protest actions, travelers across Malawi should maintain vigilance ahead of the court’s ruling and should anticipate spontaneous protests, as the court is likely to uphold the election results.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Argentina (Security threat level – 3): On 30 January 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: 
“Location: Province of Buenos Aires 

  • Vincente Lopez

“Event: Improvised Explosive Devises Detonated
“On January 28, 2020, two improvised explosive devices (IED) detonated while police were attempting to render the devices safe in Vicente Lopez. The police are continuing to investigate.”
Sri Lanka (Security threat level – 4): On 31 January 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Colombo issued a Security Alert regarding Bandaranaike International Airport (VCBI/CMB), which reads in part as follows:

"Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka

"Event: The Arrival and Departure lobbies at Bandaranaike International Airport are closed to all visitors until further notice. Only traveling passengers will be allowed inside the terminal building. For more information and further updates on this closure please visit the airport website at https://www.airport.lk/ . "