Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Eritrea tightens restrictions, imposes 21-day stay-at-home order starting April 2 due to COVID-19 activity. Significant disruptions likely.

This alert affects Eritrea

This alert began 02 Apr 2020 03:37 GMT and is scheduled to expire 16 Apr 2020 03:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-related restrictions
  • Affected Area(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Date: Through at least April 22
  • Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; increased security

Eritrean authorities have tightened existing restrictions and issued a 21-day nationwide stay-at-home order as part of the nation's effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The new edict enters into effect April 2 and mandates the following:

  • All residents must remain in their homes, with the exception of those engaged in security and other essential functions.
  • Only two members of a household may exit the home at a time per day for the purpose of buying essential food items or seeking emergency medical treatment.
  • All nonessential trading activities and transactions are prohibited; weekly markets will remain closed. Food production, supply, and processing enterprises, as well as grocery stores, pharmacies, and banks, will continue to operate but must close by 2000 daily.
  • All government institutions will suspend nonessential services and functions and focus on security and other essential tasks.
  • Use of private vehicles is prohibited by those persons employed at institutions performing essential functions.
  • Major production and service industries, such as manufacturing, food processing, construction, trucking, etc., will continue their functions.
  • Employees of essential governmental and private entities that continue to operate must be in possession of a special permit issued by their employer.

Security authorities, including police and neighborhood watch groups, will assist in enforcing the order.

The new order supplements a set of earlier-imposed measures, including the closures of all borders, schools, and universities; suspension of all international passenger flights; cancellation of all sporting events and other gatherings; and the closure of bars and restaurants until further notice. Additional restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Eritrea are possible in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by the Eritrean authorities are similar to those taken by other governments globally in recent weeks 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. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic March 11.

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.

Eritrea Ministry of Information (text of decree):

World Health Organisation (WHO):