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

AMERICAS

Brazil / Colombia / Nicaragua (Security threat levels – 3 / 4 / 4): On 19 May 2020, officials in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, extended the city’s current coronavirus-related restrictions, which include checkpoints at the 11 points of entry into the city, until at least 25 May. Only individuals with proof of residence are allowed to enter the city.

In Colombia, President Ivan Duque on 19 May extended the country’s nationwide stay-at-home order until 31 May and the national state of emergency until 31 August. Meanwhile, domestic and international flights are suspended until at least 31 June. On 1 June authorities will consider allowing museums and libraries to reopen and domestic workers to return to work.

Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega on 18 May closed the Nicaragua-Costa Rica land border to freight transport due to Costa Rica’s policy of testing truck drivers for COVID-19. Costa Rican officials began testing truck drivers from both Panama and Nicaragua on 8 May and to date have confirmed 61 positive COVID-19 cases, most of whom are from Nicaragua. Officials will not allow any truck driver displaying symptoms of COVID-19 to enter Costa Rica; those who test positive during transit through Costa Rica must return to their country of origin. Ortega’s government maintains that there have been 254 confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide, including 17 deaths. Nicaragua closed its borders to travelers and citizens on 17 April.

Canada / United States (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): On 19 May 2020, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the governments of Canada and the U.S. reached an agreement to extend the ongoing closure of the Canada-U.S. border to nonessential traffic until 21 June. Cross-border trade transport and essential services personnel — including health care staff and emergency officials, as well as others who transit the border on a daily basis for work or to obtain basic necessities such as food and medicine — remain exempt from the closure. The border restrictions imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19 initially went into effect on 21 March; on 18 April they were extended until 21 May.

United States (Security threat level – 2): As of 20 May 2020, extensive flooding continues to inundate central areas of the U.S. state of Michigan after the Edenville and Sanford dams collapsed the previous day. Authorities ordered approximately 10,000 residents to evacuate from the city of Midland — located approximately 140 mi (210 km) from Detroit — and the nearby towns of Edenville and Sanford as well as Saginaw, Thomas and Tittabawassee. Officials have warned that downtown Midland could be under 9 ft (2.75 m) of water by the afternoon hours of 20 May. The National Weather Service estimates the Tittabawassee River will crest at 38 ft, which is 4 ft higher than its record level. The river breached the two dams following days of heavy rains across Michigan; the Edenville Dam succumbed to rising water levels after the area received more than 2.5 in (63.5 mm) of rain on 19 May, which sent floodwaters to Sanford Dam — located about 7 mi downriver — forcing the latter to collapse. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued a state of emergency for Midland County and deployed National Guard personnel to assist with relief and rescue efforts. There have been no reports of flood-related injuries or deaths.

ASIA

Asia: As of 20 May 2020, several governments within the Asia-Pacific region are beginning to relax coronavirus-related restrictions, or have announced plans to lift measures, including India, Singapore, Japan and Cambodia.

Commercial domestic flights are set to gradually resume in India beginning on 25 May after being suspended since late March. Authorities stated that the Ministry of Civil Aviation will announce specific requirements for passengers and airlines at a later date. Meanwhile, Singapore’s Changi Airport (SIN/WSSS) will allow travelers to transit through the facility beginning on 2 June. Transiting passengers will be required to stay in designated areas and airport personnel who interact with passengers must wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Measures currently in place, such as temperature checks for all passengers, will continue.

In Japan, authorities will annul states of emergency in Hyogo, Kyoto and Osaka prefectures on 21 May, but emergency orders will remain in place in Chiba, Hokkaido, Kanagawa and Tokyo prefectures. Additionally, Cambodian officials lifted an entry ban for travelers from France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Spain and the U. S. on 20 May. All inbound travelers will be required to provide a health certificate obtained within 72 hours prior to arrival stating that they are negative for COVID-19 as well as proof of having at least 203 million Cambodian riels (50,000 U.S. dollars) of medical insurance coverage.

India / Bangladesh (Security threat levels – 3 / 4): On 20 May 2020, Tropical Cyclone Amphan made landfall in India’s West Bengal State south of the state capital Kolkata. Authorities have suspended operations at Kolkata’s Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (VECC/CCU) until 0500 on 21 May (2330 UTC on 20 May), including special flights related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, all overpasses and elevated corridors in Kolkata have been closed to vehicles due strong winds.

Authorities in Odisha evacuated nearly 150,000 residents from Balasore and Bhadrak — located approximately 250 km (155 mi) and 315 km southwest of Kolkata, respectively, while West Bengal authorities evacuated over 330,000 residents.

Meanwhile, authorities in Bangladesh evacuated over 1.4 million residents to cyclone shelters; however some residents returned home because the storm had not yet hit the coast, prompting authorities to force their return to the shelters. The Bangladesh Meteorological Department elevated the storm alert to “great danger signal 9” on a 10-point scale, with 10 representing the greatest danger, for the ports of Chattogram (Chittagong) and Cox’s Bazar. Mongla and Payra ports are at “great danger signal 10.” At least one emergency volunteer has died in Bangladesh. Amphan is forecast to move across West Bengal through the western portion of Bangladesh before rapidly dissipating by 21 May.

EUROPE

Germany (Security threat level – 3): On 19 May 2020, the Association of German Commercial Airports (ADV) published health guidelines for reopening airports in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Under the new guidelines, travelers in all German airports are required to wear face masks in the check-in and baggage claim areas, as well as during boarding and customs and immigration procedures. The guidelines also recommend that airports limit the number of seats in waiting areas and expand the number of check-in counters as well as buses to shuttle passengers between the terminals and aircraft, in order to better facilitate proper social distancing. Despite the new guidelines — which the ADV expects could temporarily reduce airport capacity by 20-50% — individual airports will determine how these restrictions will be implemented. Officials in a number of German states — including Bavaria, Berlin, Baden-Württemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Lower Saxony — have already implemented similar measures and are requiring individuals to wear face masks in all airport areas.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Egypt / Lebanon / United Arab Emirates (Security threat levels – 4 / 4 / 2): On 19 May 2020, Egyptian officials extended the country’s ban on international passenger flights until further notice due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Officials first implemented the suspension on 19 March and extended it on 19 April. Repatriation and humanitarian flights are exempt from the ban. Authorities also imposed a mandate requiring individuals to wear face masks in public, including in markets, banks, government buildings and aboard public transportation.

Elsewhere in Egypt, authorities issued health and safety certificates allowing 26 hotels — including two in South Sinai governorate, 16 in the Red Sea governorate and eight in the Alexandria and Matruh governorates — in coastal resort areas to begin re-accepting guests. Authorities issued the certificates after inspection teams verified that the hotels met all the requirements established by the Council of Ministers. At least 147 more hotels nationwide have requested similar inspections.

Meanwhile, Lebanese officials on 19 May extended the government’s “general mobilization” until at least 7 June, in an effort to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 infections in the country. Officials noted, however, that some businesses — such as restaurants and retail establishments — will be allowed to reopen. Bars, nightclubs and sporting event venues will remain closed until further notice.

In the United Arab Emirates, officials on 20 May ordered residents of industrial areas across the UAE — including Ras al-Khor, al-Quoz, al-Safa, al-Qusais and Jebel Ali neighborhoods of Dubai — to stay home from 1800-0600 local time (1400-0200 UTC) while authorities conduct disinfection of public areas.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Kenya / Nigeria (Security threat levels – 4 / 5) : On 20 May 2020, the Kenyan government extended movement restrictions in and out of Eastleigh, Nairobi, and Old Town, Mombasa until at least 6 June. A Ministry of Health official stated that all shopping malls, restaurants, bars and other eateries will also remain closed until 6 June.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) called on its members in the largest city Lagos to embark on an indefinite “sit-at-home” strike beginning at 1800 local time (1700 UTC) on 20 May. The organization announced the strike following reports that police officers have harassed and arrested health care and other essential workers at roadblocks in Lagos during curfew hours. The NMA has demanded that the government provide a written statement reaffirming the exemption of essential workers from the nationwide curfew. Dozens of doctors and other health care workers are expected to participate in the strike. The extent to which the labor action will affect health care services in Lagos remains unknown.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Cameroon (Security threat level – 4): On 19 May 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé issued a Security Alert regarding potential future terrorist activity, which reads in part as follows:

"Location: Cameroon

"Event: U.S. Embassy Yaounde reminds U.S. citizens that terrorist groups have previously increased the number of attacks towards the end of the Ramadan period. Possible targets include government facilities, places frequented by foreigners, and other locations such as places of worship, schools, or healthcare facilities which attract large numbers of people."

Indonesia (Security threat level – 4): On 20 May 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated travel advice regarding coronavirus-related restrictions in Jakarta, which reads in part as follows:

“Large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) in Jakarta have been extended until 4 June with possible further extensions if necessary. Though essential services will still be available, public activities (including schools, offices, religious activities, social and cultural gatherings and public transportation) will be limited. The government are also restricting public gatherings and crowds to limit the possibility of COVID-19 transmission. Criminal sanctions may apply for violations of the restrictions. We expect other regions to implement similar restrictions in the near future.”

Laos (Security threat level – 3): On 19 May 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane issued a Health and Travel Alert regarding updated entry restrictions, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Laos

“Event: Government of Laos Announces New Entry and Exit Regulations

“On May 15, the Government of Laos announced new entry and exit regulations to reduce and contain the spread of COVID-19. These regulations complement the measures that the Government of Laos announced concurrently and that the Embassy described in a May 17 Travel Alert . These regulations will be in effect until June 1. The following is a general summary of the regulations that may be of interest to U.S. Citizens:

  • All borders will remain closed;
  • Entry into Laos is granted only in very limited circumstances;
  • All entrants will be subject to COVID-19 testing and a 14-day self-quarantine requirement at their own expense;
  • All U.S. Citizens who wish to depart Laos must register at the U.S. Embassy. The Embassy will then formally request permission for departure from the Government of Laos.

“In light of these new procedures, the Embassy urges U.S. Citizens who plan to depart Laos before June 1 to inform the Embassy at their earliest possible convenience so that we may assist you in requesting permission from the Government of Laos.

"The full text of the announcement can be found here ."
Nepal (Security threat level – 3): On 20 May 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu issued a Health Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Nepal

“Event: COVID-19 Response

“The Embassy has been monitoring developing events in several locations around Kathmandu Valley throughout the day. There have been reports of unofficial community barricades in the communities of Chandragiri, Tokha, Duwakot, Sallaghari, Madhyapur Thimi, and within the area around the Teaching Hospital. The Embassy has experienced official Embassy vehicles encountering and being turned away at informal checkpoints. There are concerns that these barricades potentially pose an undue risk to the U.S. citizen community. Additional barricades and checkpoints may be established throughout other communities and neighborhoods in Kathmandu in the coming days. During this period of heightened anxiety, these checkpoints may lead to misunderstandings, opportunistic crime, and a heightened risk of vigilante violence. The Embassy urges U.S. citizens to remain sheltered in place and to avoid any of these community barricades."