Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Cape Verde extend state of emergency on Santiago island through May 29 due to COVID-19 activity. Travel disruptions likely.

This alert affects Cape Verde

This alert began 14 May 2020 13:05 GMT and is scheduled to expire 29 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 29
  • Impact: Severe transport and business disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Cape Verde have extended the nation's existing state of emergency on the island of Santiago through at least 2359 May 29 as part of efforts to halt the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Significant restrictions will remain in place on the island, as cases of COVID-19 are increasing. A daily curfew will be in place from 2100-0400, the public must adhere to social distancing measures, and the wearing of protective face masks is mandatory. All nonessential services and businesses will remain closed for this period.

Certain business and movement restrictions are also still in effect on the islands of Sao Vincente, Santo Antao, Sao Nicolau, Sal, Maio, Fogo, and Brava under the lesser "state of calamity" designation, which entered into force as these locations' respective states of emergency expired. Despite the relaxation of restrictions, authorities continue to urge residents on these islands to continue adhering to social distancing measures; all residents must wear protective face masks when outside their homes.

International travel into and out of Cape Verde remains suspended, as do all nonessential services. Severe restrictions on inter-island air and maritime travel also remain in place; however, Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva informed the nation's parliament May 2 that he was ready to re-establish inter-island air and maritime connections. Nevertheless, until the legislature officially passes new directives, residents may only travel between affected and unaffected islands upon producing results of a test showing them to be COVID-19-free. Cargo and humanitarian transport continue to face heightened screening measures. The country's flag carrier, Cabo Verde Airlines (VR), has suspended all regular commercial operations through July 1. Authorities could adjust the nation's public health posture in response to any changes in disease activity over the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
Cape Verde was one of the first African countries to relax measures put in place to halt the spread of COVID-19 since the WHO declared the disease a pandemic March 11. As of May 14, there are 289 cases of COVID-19, including 230 on the island of Santiago alone. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 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.

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. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

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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