Worldview Security Update – March 26, 2020
26-Mar-20

AMERICAS

Americas: As of 26 March 2020, a number of governments across the Americas continue to implement and enforce restrictions intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

On 25 March 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Antigua and Barbuda, which reads in part as follows: “On 24 March the Barbuda Council announced that from 27 March all ports of entry will be closed for 14 days. On 24 March the government of Antigua and Barbuda announced with immediate effect the consolidation of its borders: all private and commercial flights must arrive at VC Bird International (rather than runway 10). All sea vessels must arrive at Nevis Street Pier in St John’s.”

In Bolivia, Interim President Jeanine Ánez declared a national health emergency on 25 March and ordered the closure of the country’s land borders to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country. The state of emergency went into effect at 0000 local time (0400 UTC) on 26 March, and will last until at least 15 April. As part of the emergency measures, travelers are unable to enter or leave the country, except in unspecified emergency cases. In addition, vehicles are not permitted to traverse the country’s borders, except for emergency vehicles and those transporting medical personnel. All individuals have been advised to shelter in place and avoid all travel, except for medical emergencies. Grocery stores are set to open from 0700-1200 local time on weekdays, and one person from each household will be permitted to leave in order to obtain basic necessities such as food and medication. All public and private transportation has been suspended nationwide. Authorities have stated that these restrictions will be enforced and may include arrest or levied fines against violators. The announcement follows a nationwide quarantine imposed during 21 March-3 April, which also suspended all international flights in and out of the country during the quarantine period. According to officials, the latest measures were introduced due to non-compliance with the 21 March order to self-isolate.

In the Cayman Islands, a 24-hour curfew went into effect from 1900 local time on 25 March (0000 UTC on 26 March), and will remain in place until 0500 local time (1000 UTC) on 28 March. No businesses, including supermarkets and pharmacies, will be allowed to operate during this time period. Emergency services and other essential services will be allowed to operate. Authorities stated that a more flexible order will be implemented by 28 March.

In Chile, the health minister announced on 25 March that seven cities located within the Santiago Metropolitan Region will enter a mandatory seven-day quarantine as of 2200 local time on 26 March (0100 UTC on 27 March). The measure will be imposed in Independencia, Las Condes, Lo Barnechea, Ñuñoa, Providencia, Santiago and Vitacura. Health care services, unspecified basic services and emergencies will be exempt. Additionally, security checkpoints will be established at main access and egress points of the cities. As of 26 March, Chile has reported 1,306 cases of COVID-19.

In Mexico, all nonessential federal government activities are suspended from 26 March until further notice as part of Mexico’s response to COVID-19. All government activities aside from the provision of medical services, fuel and energy supplies, sanitation and public safety will be temporarily halted. In addition, all private businesses were advised to implement work-from-home procedures for employees where possible and to reduce the number of workers needed for all other operations. The announcement follows a similar order issued for the state of Mexico on 24 March that directed the closure of all nonessential businesses and public gathering sites in the state. At present, there are at least 475 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Mexico.

In Nicaragua, the government announced on 25 March that it will close its border with Costa Rica to curb the spread of COVID-19 and the flow of drug trafficking. Although Costa Rican authorities closed their borders on 18 March, a Nicaraguan spokesperson stated that their measures to close the border will seal off any vulnerable border crossings where transit between the two countries may be possible. There are at least two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nicaragua.

In St. Kitts and Nevis, the government closed the country’s air and seaports to all arriving passengers beginning at 1159 local time on 25 March (0359 UTC on 26 March) and continuing until 7 April. The ban applies to nationals and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis as well as all foreign nationals. Flights for medical emergencies and international cargo flights and shipments are exempt. Authorities did not announce a ban on departure flights.

United States / Canada (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): As of 26 March 2020, a number of U.S. states, cities and counties have issued stay-at-home orders as confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) rapidly spread in the country, increasing to approximately 69,200 and surpassing 1,000 fatalities. More than 13,000 new cases were reported across the country on 25 March, when the states of Idaho (from 1330 local time on 25 March-2359 local time on 15 April) and Minnesota (from 2359 local time on 27 March-1700 local time on 10 April) joined at least 19 other states and issued stay-at-home orders, urging residents to remain in their homes, except for essential purposes — such as obtaining food and medicine, seeking health care services and travel to and from work in the sectors deemed essential. In Minnesota, state officials advised residents to voluntarily comply with the order to prevent an estimated 70,000 residents from potentially contracting the disease; thus far, the state has recorded 287 confirmed cases with at least one fatality. In New York — the worst-affected state in the country with more than 30,000 confirmed cases — at least 13 patients succumbed to the illness at a hospital in the span of 24 hours. More than 50% of the U.S. population will be under movement restrictions — except for essential purposes — by the end of this week, and additional states are likely to impose such stay-at-home orders in the immediate term.

In Canada, beginning on the morning of 26 March health officials will require all returning travelers to enter a mandatory 14-day self-isolation to help curb the spread of COVID-19. The health minister stated that individuals arriving at airports are banned from using public transportation and will be provided private transportation to their destination if they are not able to arrange such services. Those with COVID-19 symptoms will be required to undergo a mandatory quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in one of the four cities with airports currently receiving international flights, which are Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (CYUL/YUL), Toronto Pearson International Airport (CYYZ/YYZ), Calgary International Airport (CYYC/YYC) and Vancouver International Airport (CYVR/YVR).

ASIA

Asia: Governments throughout the Asia-Pacific region continue to respond to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic by imposing lockdowns and entry restrictions. Commercial flight options are increasingly becoming limited throughout the region. Notable developments in Fiji, the Philippines and Myanmar are detailed below.

On 25 March 2020, authorities in Fiji announced the suspension of all scheduled flights at Nadi International Airport (NFFN/NAN) effective 26 March until further notice as part of the government’s response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). In addition, all passenger travel to and from Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu and its outer islands will be suspended indefinitely from 29 March. Travelers have been advised to return to Viti Levu as soon as possible in order to avoid potentially being stranded elsewhere after the travel restriction goes into effect. Authorities have implemented a citywide quarantine for Lautoka and suspended transportation services to and from the area. Nonessential businesses, as well as schools and government offices, have been ordered to totally or partially shut down, and access to goods and services has been restricted. The U.S. Embassy in Suva issued a Health Alert stating that efforts were underway to organize an evacuation flight for U.S. citizens out of Fiji; interested U.S. travelers may contact suvaacs@state.gov for additional information on departing the country.

In the Philippines, Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia declared on 25 March that the province will go under a state of enhanced community quarantine from 0001 local time on 27 March (1601 UTC on 26 March) until further notice. Under the enhanced measures, all arriving international flights to Mactan–Cebu International Airport (PPVM/CEB) will be suspended; outbound travelers will be permitted to depart the province. The suspensions will not apply to commercial cargo flights to and from Cebu. Philippine National Police officers and Philippine military personnel in the province will be mobilized to enforce the quarantine measures and ensure public compliance. Additional guidelines and protocols are expected to be announced before the quarantine enters into effect.

In Myanmar, the U.S. Embassy in Yangon issued a Health Alert advising of commercial flights out of the country to international hubs such as Guangzhou, Shanghai, Doha and Tokyo. Travelers may still transit through the aforementioned locations before returning to the U.S. Currently, there are at least three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Myanmar, and the number is likely to rise. The full text of the advisory can be read here .

EUROPE

Europe: As of 26 March 2020, confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue to increase significantly across much of Europe. At present, there are five countries that have surpassed 10,000 confirmed cases: Italy (74,386), Spain (56,188), Germany (39,502), France (25,604) and Switzerland (11,125). Countries across the continent continue to remain under lockdown measures as Europe surpasses 250,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

On 26 March Russian authorities announced the suspension of all international commercial and charter flights into and out of the country, effective 0000 local time on 27 March (2100 UTC on 26 March) until further notice. Officials stated that there would be exceptions for repatriation flights and aircraft authorized by the Russian government. Domestic flights continue to operate as usual. Additionally, officials in Moscow ordered the closure of non-essential businesses and parks throughout the city beginning on 28 March.

Spanish officials announced on 26 March an extension to the nationwide lockdown that was imposed on 14 March. The extension is expected to continue through 12 April and continues to require residents to remain indoors. Meanwhile, in Finland, officials announced a quarantine of the southern Uusimaa region, where the capital Helsinki is located. Officials stated that the travel restriction to and from the region will go into effect on 27 March and continue through 19 April. The restriction does not limit the movement of goods or people within the region.

On 25 March Swiss officials extended entry restrictions to include all countries in the Schengen Area. The travel ban previously applied to all non-Schengen Area countries, in addition to Austria, Italy, France, Germany and Spain. The new restrictions exempt citizens of Liechtenstein and Switzerland, permanent residents of Switzerland and foreigners with valid Swiss work visas. Travelers are still allowed to transit through airports in the country.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Middle East and North Africa: As of 26 March 2020, several governments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, including Iraq, Israel and Lebanon, are increasing or extending their existing restrictions in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In Iraq, the governor of the southern Karbala governorate announced on 26 March that provincial authorities are on the highest state of alert to enforce the previously imposed lockdown. Additionally, he announced that beginning on 26 March, authorities will imprison anyone who violates the lockdown, which went into effect on 17 March and will be in effect until 11 April. Reports from the province indicate that religious pilgrims have been violating the lockdown and are continuing to visit holy sites in large numbers.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced stricter social distancing regulations as part of efforts to control COVID-19. The restrictions include reducing public transportation operations, limiting the number of people allowed at religious ceremonies to 10, and limiting the number of people who can travel in a car together to two, including the driver. Additionally, all travel outside of a residence must be limited to essential activity, including work and essential shopping.

In Lebanon, on 26 March, officials extended the country’s nationwide lockdown until at least 12 April. Lebanese authorities reported 368 new cases in the country.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Sub-Saharan Africa: As of 26 March 2020, a number of governments across Sub-Saharan Africa continue to implement and enforce restrictions intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). In West Africa, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta announced the closure of all land border crossings and the implementation of a nationwide nightly curfew from 2100-0500 local time/UTC beginning on 27 March and continuing until further notice. Commercial cargo transport is set to be exempt from the border restrictions. Although Mali’s airports remain open and operational at this time, authorities previously announced the suspension of all commercial flights arriving from COVID-19-affected countries on 19 March.

On 25 March, South Africa’s government announced the closure of it’s airspace to all commercial airlines effective as of 0000 local time on 26 March 2020 (2200 UTC on 25 March), and expected to last until at least 16 April. Previously, officials announced a 21-day lockdown during the same period, which permits residents to leave their homes only for purchasing food or seeking health care. Thus far, South Africa has more than 900 confirmed COVID-19 cases — the largest number of cases recorded in a Sub-Saharan African country. 

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a nationwide nightly curfew from 1900-0500 local time (1600-0200 UTC), which will go into effect on 27 March until further notice. Thus far, Kenya has 31 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

In Uganda, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni suspended all forms of public transportation effective immediately on 25 March through at least 8 April. Private vehicles may continue to operate, but cannot carry more than three people; all taxis, buses, passenger trains, tricycles and boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) are included in the suspension. Commercial trucks and food delivery vehicles may continue to operate normally.

Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi declared a nationwide state of emergency for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and ordered the suspension of all domestic flights within the country from 25 March until further notice. Additionally, all ground movements into and out of the capital Kinshasa have been banned indefinitely; cargo transport will be permitted entry, but must first pass through police checkpoints to enter the city. Tshisekedi previously suspended all international flights during 21 March-3 April.

In Zambia, President Edgar Lungu has ordered the closure of all airports — except the capital Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (FLKK/LUN), where enhanced screening measures against COVID-19 are in place; the suspension went into effect at 0000 local time on 26 March (2200 UTC on 25 March) and will remain in place for at least two weeks. Lungu has also ordered the closure of all bars, gyms and other nonessential businesses nationwide and banned public gatherings of more than 50 people; restaurants are permitted to continue delivery and carryout services.

Throughout the region, police officers and soldiers have been deployed to enforce measures against COVID-19. In Rwanda, police officers fired live rounds at individuals violating the nationwide lockdown in the outskirts of Kigali; anecdotal reports indicate that at least two people were killed during the event. Meanwhile, in Benin, one person was shot and killed in Cotonou during clashes between university students and police officers. Additionally, a Togolese soldier shot and killed a Beninese national while trying to cross the now-closed border into Togo.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Tunisia (Security threat level – 3): On 25 March 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Tunis issued a message regarding repatriation flights to the U.S., which reads in part as follows:

"The U.S. Embassy in Tunis is working to schedule chartered repatriation flights to the United States for U.S. citizens in Tunisia.

"The first flights could depart Tunis as early as Friday, March 27. We do not anticipate being able to offer flights after this weekend, and individuals interested in departing Tunisia should take this opportunity or be prepared to shelter in place in Tunisia until commercial flights have resumed.

"If you are interested in departing Tunisia as soon as possible, you and your traveling companions should be prepared to go to the airport with little advance notice."

To read the full text of the warning, please click here.