Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: DRC authorities extend COVID-19-related state of health emergency through early June. Several movement and travel restrictions in force.

This alert affects Democratic Republic of the Congo

This alert began 24 May 2020 08:50 GMT and is scheduled to expire 05 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions; increased security

Summary
Authorities in the DRC extended the state of health emergency for a third time May 22. This measure grants authorities additional powers to counter the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and is due to expire June 6. The extension complements other measures already in force across the DRC.

  • All land borders, airports, and maritime ports of entry have been closed to passenger transit. Commercial and freight transport is able to continue under heightened screening measures.
  • Movement restrictions between Kinshasa and other provinces are in effect; all domestic flights, as well as road and river transport between Kinshasa and the provinces, have been indefinitely suspended for passenger traffic. Officials will continue to allow commercial and freight transport under heightened screening measures.
  • Quarantine measures are in place in Goma, Kiwanja, and Rutshuru until at least early June. These areas are also under a 2000-0500 curfew. Inter- and intra-city movement restrictions are in force.
  • Authorities have banned large public gatherings, with events limited to 20 people. Nonessential stores and stalls, bars, and restaurants are to remain closed until further notice. Most schools and universities are closed.
  • Self-isolation is mandatory for individuals over 60 years old in South Kivu.
  • The wearing of facemasks is mandatory in South Kivu, Haut-Katanga, and Kinshasha.


Officials will administer penalties for persons violating lockdown regulations in the form of fines. Security forces will deploy to ensure compliance. Security forces in the DRC may use force to ensure compliance. Additional restrictions and further extensions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the DRC are possible in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. 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. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Reconfirm all planned travel arrangements. Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Consider delaying travel 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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