Worldview Security Update – May 12, 2020
12-May-20

AMERICAS

Argentina / Brazil / Guatemala (Security threat levels – 3 / 3 / 4): In Argentina, authorities in the capital Buenos Aires allowed a limited number of businesses to resume operations on 12 May 2020, despite having extended the city’s stay-at-home order until 24 May. Some businesses — including bookstores, appliance stores, flower shops and bike shops — reopened, while restaurants, bars and breweries reopened for delivery or takeout services only. Additionally, authorities have expanded sidewalks on a number of roads, including Triunvirato, Cabildo and Rivadavia avenues, to allow for easier social distancing. 

In Brazil, officials in the northeastern Pernambuco state on 11 May ordered citywide quarantines in Camaragibe, Jaboatão dos Guararapes, Olinda, Recife and São Lourenço da Mata from 16-31 May. During this time, residents are prohibited from leaving their homes except to procure essential goods and services. In addition, residents are required to wear face masks in public to prevent community-based transmission of the virus. Vehicle movement will also be restricted during the quarantine period. Checkpoints will be set up throughout the cities, and vehicles will be allowed to operate based on odd- and even-numbered license plates.

Guatemalan authorities on 10 May announced the implementation of additional social distancing restrictions due to a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases. Effective immediately, all interdepartmental traffic is restricted, with exemptions in place for heavy transport and medical personnel. In addition, any person found spreading rumors regarding the coronavirus pandemic will be subject to penalties. The government will also close markets found violating social distancing measures and will penalize hospitals that fail to report their COVID-19 cases. 

ASIA

Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): On 12 May 2020, militants in Afghanistan conducted two major terrorist attacks in the country, including one in the capital Kabul, and another in Nangahar province. In western Kabul, at approximately 1000 local time (0530 UTC) three armed assailants dressed as police officers attacked a hospital operated by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood. The attackers reportedly stormed the facility and detonated at least two grenades before engaging in a gunbattle with security forces, which lasted several hours and ended with the deaths of all three attackers. Reports indicate that the attackers targeted the hospital’s maternity ward, killing at least 16 people, and injuring 16 more. The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack.

Later the same day, a suicide bomber attacked a funeral ceremony in the Khewa district of Nangarhar province. The assailant reportedly detonated several explosives during the ceremony, at which government officials and a member of parliament were present. Local reports indicate that at least 26 people were killed and 68 others were injured in the attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Analyst Comment: The Islamic State frequently conducts attacks in the capital Kabul, often targeting civilians and foreign nationals. In addition, the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood — which is home to a large Shiite community — has also been a focal point for several attacks in recent years. Preliminary reports indicate that the initial target of the attack was a guesthouse behind the hospital building that houses foreign staff. Communal gatherings, such as funerals and weddings, are frequent targets for terrorist attacks as they tend to attract large numbers of people, and often include local politicians and/or tribal leaders.

Philippines (Security threat level – 4): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), as of 0900 UTC on 12 May 2020, Tropical Depression One — locally known as Ambo — was located approximately 965 km (600 mi) east-southeast of Manila, the capital of the Philippines, and was moving north at 9 kph (6 mph). At that time, Ambo was generating maximum sustained winds of 55 kph, with gusts of up to 75 kph. On its current path, Ambo is expected to strengthen to a tropical storm from 12 to 13 May before making landfall on Samar Island by 14 May, where it is forecast to bring heavy rainfall of between 50- 200 mm (2-8 in) and strong winds of up to 115 kph. Ambo is then expected to shift northwest and track up across Luzon Island, where Manila is located, from 15-16 May. Following its departure from Luzon, the storm is likely to track toward Taiwan.

Philippines / Indonesia (Security threat levels – 4 / 4): On 12 May 2020, authorities extended the “enhanced community quarantine” (ECQ) in place in Metro Manila, Laguna province and Cebu City until 31 May in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, beginning on 16 May, some manufacturing and processing facilities in those areas will be allowed to reopen, and limited public transportation services will resume; however, officials have not provided specific details. Employees who work at reopened facilities in ECQ zones, but live in “general community quarantine” (GCQ) zones — which allow more freedom of movement than an ECQ — will be allowed to transit between the areas as long as they provide identification to security personnel at quarantine checkpoints. Previously, only essential personnel such as medical workers or security officers were allowed to enter and leave ECQ areas. Despite the easing of some restrictions, residents inside ECQ areas will only be allowed to leave their homes to procure essential goods and services.

Meanwhile in Indonesia, the government on 12 May banned entry to foreign workers who were expected to begin construction on a smelter on Sulawesi Island until further notice. A government spokeswoman stated that when the workers are allowed to re-enter, they will be subject to COVID-19 tests and other unspecified health measures. Foreign workers employed for important industrial projects as well as foreign diplomats and healthcare workers were previously allowed to enter the country if they obtained proper authorization. It remains unknown whether the entry ban will apply to all foreign workers, or just the group employed for the smelter project.

EUROPE

United Kingdom / Turkey / Spain (Security threat levels – 3 / 4 / 3): On 12 May 2020, Northern Ireland’s government released a five-step plan to ease the ongoing nationwide lockdown — enacted to contain the spread of COVID-19 — in an effort to resume routine activities. Officials provided no specific timeline for implementation of the plan, although First Minister Arlene Foster stated that she hopes the country will reach the final stage by December. During the first step, gatherings of four to six people will be permitted and outdoor retail businesses, such as garden centers, will be allowed to resume operations, as will those involved in outdoor fitness activities. Officials are scheduled to review the regulations every three weeks; the next review is due on 28 May, when the lockdown is set to expire.

In Turkey, on 11 May President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced restrictions on movement across the country. Between 0000 local time on 16 May (2100 UTC on 15 May) to 0000 local time on 19 May residents may leave their home during scheduled times contingent on their age group while remaining within walking distance of their home and wearing a face mask. Reports indicate that the curfew will apply to 31 major cities — including Ankara and Istanbul — and will coincide with National Youth and Sports Day on 19 May.

On 12 May the Spanish government announced that all travelers entering the country between 15-24 May will be required to self-quarantine for two weeks. Individuals under quarantine are only allowed to travel to obtain groceries, seek medical attention or deal with unspecified emergencies. Truck drivers, aircraft and ship crews, cross-border workers and health staff working in Spain will be exempt.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Jordan / Lebanon / Saudi Arabia (Security threat levels – 3 / 4 / 3): On 11 May 2020, Jordanian officials announced that civil servants — who have been on furlough since 12 March due to the COVID-19 pandemic — may return to work on 26 May. The reopening of government offices coincides with the end of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan. Officials noted, however, that the country’s nightly curfew will remain in effect until further notice.

In Lebanon, authorities on 12 May announced a nationwide lockdown from 14-17 May. Under the terms of the curfew, grocery stories and pharmacies will remain open, and individuals will be allowed to leave their homes to purchase essential items. The previous day, authorities extended the nightly curfew hours to 1900 to 0500 local time (1600 to 0200 UTC) from 2100 to 0500 local time.

In Saudi Arabia, authorities on 12 May declared a 24-hour curfew in the Bish governorate, located in the country’s Jazan Region, until further notice. The curfew allows residents to leave their homes for essential purposes — such as buying groceries and medicine — but prohibits them from exiting the governorate, while it prohibits outside travelers from entering.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Angola / Botswana / Senegal (Security threat levels – 3 / 2 / 3): On 12 May 2020, Angolan authorities extended the country’s existing coronavirus-related state of emergency until 25 May. Under the terms of the state of emergency, all schools, churches, restaurants, bars, libraries and other public locations remain closed. Individuals are not permitted to enter or exit the capital Luanda, and domestic leisure travel remains banned. Additionally, face masks are required in all public offices. Concurrently, some lockdown measures will be lifted. Markets and street vendors will now be allowed to operate from 0600 to 1300 local time (0500 to 1200 UTC) on Tuesday through Saturday. Civil services are allowed to resume operations during limited hours and with 50% of their staff. Furthermore, public transportation can operate at 50% capacity from 0500 to 1800 local time.

In Botswana, the government on 11 May declared the capital Gaborone a “high-risk area,” and imposed a citywide quarantine until further notice due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases. Under the order, residents are advised to limit their movement, and to only leave their homes to obtain essential goods and services. Officials also suspended the authorization of pink permits — which allow for movement in and out of the city — until further notice.

In Senegal, authorities began to ease nationwide restrictions on 12 May by allowing places of worship and markets to reopen as long as residents adhere to adequate social distancing measures. Additionally, face masks are mandatory at all times in public. Restaurants and businesses may resume normal hours of operation, although facilities must close at least one day per week to disinfect and sanitize. Authorities also reduced the hours of the nightly curfew to 2100-0500 local time/UTC until further notice.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Lesser Antilles (Security threat level – 1): On 11 May 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for St. Kitts and Nevis, which reads in part as follows:

“The Government of St Kitts and Nevis has eased the tight restrictions imposed under the emergency regulations. New regulations are valid to 23 May. In the weeks commencing 11 May and 18 May, essential businesses may operate on a limited basis Monday – Friday, closing no later than 6 pm and practising social and physical distancing protocols. The nightly curfew lasts from 8.00 pm to 5.00 am. Churches, schools and places of entertainment remain closed. The sale of liquor is banned and it is mandatory to wear face masks in public. Beaches may be accessed 5.30 am to 9.00 am Monday to Friday. A 24 hour curfew is in place on Saturday 16 May and Sunday 17 May.” 

Uganda (Security threat level – 4): On 12 May 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice regarding a special flight from Entebbe to the U.K., which reads in part as follows:

“The UK Government has facilitated a special flight from Entebbe for British tourists, short term visitors and their direct dependents in Uganda to return to the UK. The flight will leave on 21 May.

“Seats cost £559. All passengers must pay for their tickets.

“To be eligible for a flight, you must:

  • Be a British national, normally resident in the UK.
  • Or be a dependant of and travelling with a British national.

“Vulnerable British nationals will be prioritised.

“Vulnerable non-British UK residents with Indefinite Leave to Remain, and other foreign nationals, may be accommodated if there is sufficient capacity. Your eligibility, including your UK address, will be checked before your tickets are issued.”

The full text of the alert is available here .