Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Authorities in the DRC to gradually ease state of emergency restrictions related to COVID-19 from July 21.
- Alert Begins: 20 Jul 2020 11:48 AM UTC
- Alert Expires: 27 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Travel and business disruptions; increased security
Authorities in the DRC will begin gradually easing the state of emergency, which is in place as a response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), from July 21. Several measures, including domestic travel, sport and religious gatherings, and the opening of nonessential businesses such as stalls, bars, and restaurants will be amended subject to the approval of authorities. These measures will be announced in the coming days, along with the new restrictions and precautions businesses will need to implement upon their reopening. Restrictions in place since April 6 will be continued until the new regulations are in place. These include the following:
- Humanitarian and freight transport is able to continue under heightened screening measures.
- Borders remain closed and the suspension of international travel remains in place.
- Movement restrictions between Kinshasa and other provinces are in effect; all domestic flights, as well as road and river transport between Kinshasa and other provinces, have been indefinitely suspended for passenger traffic. Officials will continue to allow commercial and freight transport under heightened screening measures.
- 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.
- The wearing of protective face masks is mandatory in public.
Officials will continue to administer fines for persons violating lockdown regulations. Security forces have been deployed to ensure compliance and may use force.
Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent months 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.
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.