Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Benin extend coronavirus-related restrictions in at-risk municipalities through May 10. Severe disruptions likely.

This alert affects Benin

This alert began 28 Apr 2020 17:04 GMT and is scheduled to expire 10 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 10
  • Impact: Severe travel and commercial disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Benin have extended the nation's existing restrictions and social distancing measures through at least May 10 as part of efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). So-called "public health cordons" will remain in force around certain at-risk municipalities in the nation's south, including Cotonou, Abomey-Calavi, Allada, Ouidah, Tori-Bossito, Kpomasse, Toffo, Ze, So-Ava, Aguegues, Seme-Podji, Porto-Novo, Akpro-Misserete, Adjara, and Atchoukpa. In areas under the public health cordons, movement is restricted to essential travel, certain public transport services are suspended or reduced, and residents must wear protective face masks and maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) of social distance. These measures are in addition to other restrictions, such as heavily restricted travel via land borders and the quarantine of persons suspected of being infected with COVID-19. Authorities have also stated that schools and universities will reopen on May 11, provided they adhere to adequate health precautions.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government have escalated in recent weeks as the numbers of infected persons have increased in Benin; however, 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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