Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in DRC impose lockdown in Gombe municipality, Kinshasa, April 6-20. Air, land, sea, ports closed nationwide since March 26.

This alert affects Democratic Republic of the Congo

This alert began 03 Apr 2020 10:00 GMT and is scheduled to expire 20 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Movement and travel restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Summary
Authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have imposed updated restrictions to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of April 2:

  • Gombe municipality, located in the Lukunga district of Kinshasa, will be quarantined April 6-20. Non-essential businesses will be shut. All residents are to remain in their homes. Only health workers will be allowed access to the municipality. Authorities reversed an earlier decision to place the whole of Kinshasa on rotational lockdown from March 28.


Existing measures as of March 26:

  • All land borders, airports, and maritime ports of entry have been closed to passenger transit. Commercial and freight transport are 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. Commercial and freight transports are able to continue under heightened screening measures.
  • Authorities have banned public gatherings. Markets, bars, and restaurants are to remain closed until further notice. Most schools and universities will remain closed through at least April 17.


Penalties for persons violating lockdown regulations are unclear. Security forces will be deployed to ensure compliance. Security forces in the DRC may use force to ensure compliance.

The DRC declared a state of emergency effective March 24 to limit the spread of COVID-19. Additional restrictions 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.

Resources
World Health Organisation (WHO): www.who.int

DRC Ministry of Health COVID-19 website: covid-19info.cd