Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Benin announce easing of COVID-19 restrictions from June 2. Other restrictions remain in place indefinitely.

This alert affects Benin

This alert began 28 May 2020 14:30 GMT and is scheduled to expire 09 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Severe travel and commercial disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Benin have announced the easing of some restrictions put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from June 2. The Council of Ministers has stated that places of worship, public transport services, and bars can resume from this date as long as sanitary precautions are observed. This latest easing of measures follows the lifting of "public health cordons" around certain at-risk municipalities in the nation's south May 10. Education and academic activities resumed May 11.

Other restrictions and social distancing measures remain in place indefinitely. Local public transport services must adhere to social distancing measures; all residents must wear protective masks and keep at least 1 meter (3 feet) apart. Groups comprising more than 50 people remain banned. Air, ground, and maritime travel in and out of Benin is heavily restricted and the quarantine of persons suspected of being infected with COVID-19 remains in place. Some commercial flights are ongoing, and travel across overland borders is limited to essential movement and freight. Maritime services face similar restrictions.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government have evolved in recent weeks as authorities assess the impact of COVID-19 across the country. The resumption of education activities could point to possible recovery in the country. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV2-virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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