Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Guinea-Bissau extend a state of emergency through April 26 to halt the spread of COVID-19.

This alert affects Guinea-Bissau

This alert began 14 Apr 2020 12:45 GMT and is scheduled to expire 26 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Travel restrictions
  • Location(s): Guinea-Bissau (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Border closures, business disruptions; possible freight delays

Summary
Authorities in Guinea-Bissau have extended the country's state of emergency through at least April 26 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Measures already in place as part of the state of emergency include the indefinite closure of Guinea-Bissau's land, sea, and air borders. Cargo and humanitarian transport will not be affected. The government has also banned mass gatherings, including local markets and religious services. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice.

Background and Analysis
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 WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic March 11.

Despite these restrictions corresponding with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days, Guinea-Bissau also faces an ongoing political crisis. The action taken by the government of Umaro Sissoco Embalo is also an attempt to secure his contested position as president; widespread adherence to the restrictions would confirm Embalo's de facto presidency despite the Supreme Court not yet ruling on the matter.

Advice
Reconfirm all transportation. Consider deferring nonessential travel to Guinea-Bissau for the duration of the restrictions. Follow all official directives. Abide by national health and safety measures. 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.

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