Worldview Security Update – March 31, 2020
31-Mar-20

AMERICAS

Americas: As of 31 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), including extensions to states of emergency. Most countries in the region remain under lockdown or quarantine measures, and affected countries continue to extend restrictions into April. Significant developments for the Bahamas, Belize, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay and St. Kitts and Nevis are outlined below.

On 29 March the Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis extended the country’s nationwide 24-hour curfew until 8 April. The measure was scheduled to expire on 31 March. Essential businesses and services such as medical facilities, supermarkets, farmers’ markets, banks, pharmacies and gas stations remain open. All airports and seaports are closed to passengers on incoming international flights and vessels; however, outbound flights continue to operate.

In Belize, on 30 March authorities announced a 30-day nationwide state of emergency and curfew. The curfew, effective 1 April, will be in place from 2000 to 0500 local time (0200 to 1100 UTC). Workers and companies deemed essential by the government will be exempt.

On 30 March the Mexican government suspended all nonessential activities with immediate effect until 30 April. Officials previously suspended all nonessential federal government activities, with exceptions for medical services, fuel and energy supplies, sanitation and public safety. The government also advised private sector employers to suspend operations if they are unable to work from home. In addition, authorities also banned gatherings of 50 or more people. Thus far, Mexico has recorded 1,094 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 28 fatalities.

On 31 March Nicaragua closed the Peñas Blancas border crossing with Costa Rica until further notice. Nicaraguan nationals are exempt from the order. Currently, there are four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, including one fatality.

In Panama, beginning on 1 April individuals will be permitted to leave their homes for only two hours at a time on and designated on different days. Men will be allowed to travel to essential businesses — such as grocery stores and pharmacies — on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, whereas women will be allowed to travel for the same reasons on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays. No one will be permitted to leave their homes on Sundays. Authorities announced on 30 March that security personnel have detained 4,175 people to date for violating mandatory movement restrictions in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. The majority of the arrests took place in the provinces of Panama — where the capital Panama City is located — Chiriquí and Panama Oeste. The nationwide curfew remains in effect from 1700 to 0500 local time (2200 to 1000 UTC) until further notice . Currently, Panama has 1,075 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 27 deaths.

On 28 March Paraguay’s President Mario Abdo Benítez extended the country’s nationwide quarantine until 12 April. The quarantine requires people to remain indoors; however, exceptions exist for essential workers and travel to grocery stores, pharmacies and transport to hospital facilities. The measure was originally scheduled to expire on 28 March.

In St. Kitts and Nevis, Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris announced on 30 March a 24-hour curfew from 1900 local time (2300 UTC) on 31 March until 0600 local time (1000 UTC) on 3 April. The measure requires residents to remain in their homes; however, exceptions exist for workers in essential services, as well as for travel to grocery stores or medical facilities.

United States / Canada (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): As of 31 March 2020, the U.S. has recorded at least 164,610 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), with more than 3,000 fatalities. At least 500 of those fatalities were recorded the previous day; half occurred in the state of New York, which has the highest number of such cases (67,384) in the country. In an effort to limit the rapid spread of COVID-19, local officials across the country continue to enact orders to stay at home. Thus far, approximately 245 million individuals in 32 of 50 U.S. states have been ordered to stay in their homes, except for essential purposes such as procuring basic necessities and traveling to workplaces deemed essential. On 30 March stay-at-home orders were issued for the states of Arizona (from 1700 local time on 31 March to 30 April), Maryland (from 2000 local time on 31 March until further notice) and Virginia (from 30 March until 10 June), in addition to the national capital Washington, D.C. — where the order is effective 0001 local time on 1 April through 24 April.

In Canada, Ontario Premier Doug Ford extended the state of emergency in the province — where Toronto is located — by two weeks until 13 April, as local health officials announced 351 new COVID-19 cases with 10 deaths on 30 March. The latest order mandates the closure of all public and private outdoor gathering sites such as sports fields, parks and recreational centers effective immediately. The province has recorded a total of at least 1,706 confirmed COVID-19 cases and the death toll remains at 33. The total number of confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Canada remains at 7,474 with at least 92 fatalities.

ASIA

Asia: As of 31 March 2020, travel and movement restrictions continue to be imposed throughout the Asia Pacific region in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. In Australia’s state of New South Wales, authorities issued a stay-at-home order. Indonesia declared a state of emergency and announced plans to ban foreign nationals. Additional developments in Vietnam, India, South Korea, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand are outlined below.

On 31 March restrictions on public outings went into effect in the Australian state of New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital. Under the order, residents are allowed to leave their homes to obtain essential goods and services, to travel to work if they are unable to work remotely or to exercise. Those who are unable to prove a reasonable purpose for travel may be fined or jailed. To date, New South Wales has recorded at least 2,032 COVID-19 cases, which accounts for almost half of the country’s total number of such cases. Additional information regarding government restrictions is available here.

In Indonesia, the government declared a “community health emergency” and announced plans to ban all foreign travelers from entering or transiting through the country. Exceptions will be made for permanent residents, diplomats and those visiting for official business. Additionally, all returning Indonesian nationals will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine. However, authorities did not state when the measures would come into effect, or how long they will be enforced.

On 31 March Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc announced new nationwide social distancing measures to reduce community transmission of COVID-19. As part of the measures, residents will be required to stay in their homes with exceptions to acquire essential goods or for emergencies from 1-15 April. Officials also banned gatherings of two or more people in public venues outside of the workplace, schools or hospitals and advised residents to stay at least 2 m (5 ft) away from one another in public spaces.

In India, on the evening of 29 March police officers clashed with approximately 500 migrant workers in the city of Surat, located in Gujarat state, when officers attempted to disperse the workers who were attempting to travel to their homes in other parts of the country. The workers threw stones at police officers, prompting the latter to respond with tear gas canisters. Authorities arrested at least 93 workers afterward. After a countrywide 21-day lockdown went into effect on 25 March, migrant workers in major cities began leaving en masse, primarily on foot, for their hometowns, which are often located in rural areas. Authorities have attempted to stop the workers with mixed success.

In South Korea, the government announced on 29 March a two-week mandatory quarantine for all international travelers effective 1 April. Travelers without local addresses will be required to stay in government-designated facilities at their own expense. It is unknown how long this new restriction will remain in place.

On 30 March Myanmar prohibited all inbound commercial flights from landing at any of the country’s airports, except for emergency medical evacuation flights, cargo flights and others on a case-by-case basis. In addition, Myanmar Airways International suspended inbound flights for all passengers — including Myanmar citizens — effective over the same period.

In Sri Lanka, authorities announced that all inbound passenger flights will remain suspended until at least 2359 local time (1829 UTC) on 7 April.

In Thailand, on 30 March officials announced that Phuket International Airport (VTSP/HKT) will suspend operations from 10-30 April as part of restrictions imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Phuket government previously halted all ground and maritime access, except for deliveries of essential goods such as food, fuel and medical supplies.

EUROPE

Europe: As of 31 March 2020, confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue to increase significantly across Europe. At present, there are eight countries that have surpassed 10,000 confirmed cases: Italy (101,739), Spain (94,417), Germany (67,051), France (45,171), the U.K. (22,465), Switzerland (15,922), Belgium (12,775) and the Netherlands (11,817). Transportation services continue to experience significant disruptions and lockdowns continue across the continent as officials attempt to contain COVID-19.

On 30 March Cypriot officials announced a nationwide nightly curfew from 2100-0600 local time (1800-0300 UTC) beginning on 31 March. Authorities stated that special passes will be introduced and required for anyone leaving their home. Separately, Georgian officials also introduced a nightly curfew beginning on 31 March. The curfew will go into effect from 2100-0600 local time (1700-0200 UTC). Additional restrictions include a ban on gatherings of more than three people and the suspension of public transportation. Checkpoints are set to be established in the capital Tbilisi, along with the cities of Batumi, Kutaisi, Rustavi, Poti, Zugdidi, and Gori, and all individuals must carry identifying documents while traveling.

Italian officials also implemented further travel restrictions on people entering the country. Inbound travelers will be expected to declare their reason for entering the country, where they intend to self-quarantine for 14 days, how they intend to travel to their destination and provide contact information. Transport providers are expected to check passenger temperatures and deny boarding to anyone registering a fever. The restrictions apply to everyone entering the country, with exceptions for cargo and transportation crew members.

Meanwhile, officials in St. Petersburg, Russia, announced citywide lockdown restrictions until 5 April. Residents will only be allowed to leave their homes to purchase essential goods, seek medical treatment or go to work. Residents over the age of 65 will also be expected to self-isolate until at least 14 April.

Additionally, several countries have extended lockdown measures and travel restrictions. In Belgium, the nationwide lockdown that began on 18 March has been extended until 18 April. Officials stated that the lockdown will likely be extended again until 3 May. The Czech Republic also extended border closures until 11 April and announced a requirement for people in public to wear a mask. In Finland, the state of emergency has been extended through 13 May, but restrictions on travel out of southern Uusimaa region — where the capital Helsinki is located — have not been extended beyond 19 April.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Middle East and North Africa: As of 31 March 2020, COVID-19 is continuing to spread across the Middle East and North Africa region. At present, the epicenter of the outbreak in MENA remains Iran, with 44,606 cases in the country and over 2,898 deaths. Meanwhile, Turkish authorities have reported at least 9,217 cases. Jordanian officials have reported at least 259 cases, Israeli authorities have reported 4,695 cases and Egyptian officials have reported 656 cases. Iraqi authorities meanwhile have reported 630 cases of the disease. Meanwhile, in the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia currently has the most cases reported at 1,299, while Qatari authorities have reported 634 total cases to date. In Oman, officials have reported 167 cases and Bahrain has reported 476.

In North Africa, cases of the disease are also growing. Algeria currently has the most cases in the region with 511, while Moroccan authorities have reported 463 infections and Tunisian authorities have reported 278 infections. In Libya, the number of infections is eight, but it is likely that the ongoing war has contributed to underreporting.

In the UAE, the governor of Dubai issued a lockdown order on 30 March the historic al-Ras district in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The governor of Dubai cited the district’s population density as the main driver of the decision to issue the lockdown order. The lockdown will remain in effect until at least 13 April. There are no exceptions to the order, but government officials from the Dubai Health Authority have dispatched teams to the area to provide essential goods and services for residents.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Sub-Saharan Africa: As of 31 March 2020, the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) across Sub-Saharan Africa has surpassed 3,500 in at least 40 countries as governments throughout the region continue to introduce and enforce new restrictions aimed at preventing further spread of the disease. In Botswana, President Mokgweetsi Masisi declared a state of emergency after the country recorded its first three cases of COVID-19 on 31 March. The state of emergency will take effect on 2 April and will continue until 30 April. Residents have been advised to practice social distancing measures and travel outside of their homes is reserved to individuals performing essentials services or tasks and those transporting cargo.

On 30 March Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni extended the current nationwide lockdown to include private vehicles, effective 2200 local time (1900 UTC). The order imposes a total ban on travel within the country through 13 April. Additionally, the new measure includes a nationwide nighttime curfew starting at 1900 local time on 31 March; exemptions remain for cargo aircraft and vehicles, although no more than three crew members and no passengers are permitted. Previously, Museveni had closed all air, land and sea borders, suspended public transportation, and ordered nonessential shops in the capital Kampala to close down. Malawian authorities have suspended all international commercial flights into and out of the country starting 1 April until further notice. Meanwhile, the mayor of Blantyre — Malawi’s second largest city — issued an emergency order to implement a citywide lockdown effective immediately and until further notice. Residents have been advised to remain indoors and avoid travel outside except for essential activities, such as procuring food and medical supplies. All nonessential businesses have been ordered to shut down and mass gatherings — such as weddings and sports events — have been banned.

Guinean President Alpha Condé announced a nationwide nightly curfew from 2100-0500 local time/UTC beginning on 30 March for at least the next 14 days. Additionally, Condé announced a ban on all ground movements into and out of the capital Conakry, with the exception of medical emergencies, until further notice. Condé previously declared a state of emergency and closed the country’s land border crossings on 27 March.

In Ghana, President Nana Akufo-Addo announced a two-week lockdown as of 0100 local time/UTC on 30 March — for three major cities:including Accra, Kumasi and Tema. During the lockdown period, residents are permitted to leave their homes for essential purposes only, such as to procure food, medicine or medical care. Emergency personnel and government employees are exempt from the restrictions. The directive also bans all ground movements between the three cities under lockdown. Approximately 35,000 members of the Ghanaian military and police force have deployed to ensure the public compliance to the lockdowns.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Egypt (Security threat level – 4): On 30 March 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued an Alert regarding repatriation flights, which reads in part as follows:

"The U.S. Embassy in Cairo has coordinated with the Egyptian Government to arrange for repatriation flights from Cairo to the United States via EgyptAir. There are currently two flights planned – one on Wednesday April 1 and one on Friday April 3 – departing Cairo and flying directly to Washington, D.C. (Dulles) using a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
"The Embassy is aware that these flights may be nearing capacity, but there may be cancellations of existing reservations so if you wish to depart and have been unable to purchase a ticket yet please keep trying.
"These are private commercial flights for which U.S. citizens who wish to depart Egypt will be able to purchase tickets directly by calling the Egypt Air call centers 24 hours a day:

  • Landline: 0900 70000
  • Mobile: 1717 "
  • From the U.S.: +1 800 334 6787

"Tickets can also be purchased through the Egypt Air ticketing office in Terminal 3 of the Cairo Airport. No online booking is allowed for these flights."
To read the full text of the warning please click here .
Iraq (Security threat level – 5): On 30 March 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad issued a Health Alert, which reads in part as follows:

"The Iraqi Ministry of Health has confirmed cases of COVID-19 within Iraq. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. Consulate General in Erbil are working to identify flight options. Flights may be available this week. U.S. citizens who would like to depart Iraq on the next available commercial flight opportunity should fill out the form in the link below:

"Form for U.S. Citizens in Iraq Requesting Travel Information "

To read the full text of the alert please click here .
Lesser Antilles (Security threat level – 1): On 30 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 27 March the government of Antigua and Barbuda announced a series of measures to protect the public from COVID-19. With immediate effect all non-essential services such as bars, nightclubs, and restaurants are closed and all social gatherings are prohibited. From 28 March there will be a curfew each night from 20:00 until 06:00. This will initially last two weeks. As of 30 March, gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited. Failure to comply will result in either a fine of XCD5000 or six months imprisonment. Public-facing government offices are restricting their opening hours and numbers of visitors.”

Mauritania (Security threat level – 4): On 30 March 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Nouakchott, Mauritania, issued a Health Alert regarding a repatriation flight for U.S. nationals, which reads in part as follows: "Location: Mauritania

"Event: The Mauritanian Ministry of Health has confirmed five cases of COVID-19 in Mauritania.

"The Department of State and the U.S. Embassy are arranging a special flight for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (green card holders) on Thursday, April 2 to Washington, DC. Any U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who would like to depart on this flight must contact the U.S. embassy immediately at consularnkc@state.gov or call the duty officer at 2662-8163, if you have not already done so. The cost of the flight will be ,500 per person. All passengers will need to sign a legally binding promissory to pay for the flight – there will be no cash or credit card payments accepted. The flight will end in Washington D.C. at Dulles International Airport. Passengers who need to fly to other destinations inside the United States will make those arrangements with individual airlines and will be responsible for all costs associated with lodging and onward transportation. Each passenger will be allowed two checked-in bags not to exceed 23 kg and one carry-on that must find under their seat. The flight will not accept pets (including emotional support animals). Exact departure, routing and cost are subject to change."

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