Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Niger eases COVID-related curfew in Niamey starting April 22 following violent protests in several cities. Further protests possible.

This alert affects Niger

This alert began 22 Apr 2020 14:10 GMT and is scheduled to expire 23 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 23
  • Impact: Significant travel, transport, and business disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Niger have eased the curfew related to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Niamey as of April 22 after riots broke out in several cities across the country as Ramadan approaches. Demonstrators have been protesting the ongoing prohibition on collective prayers that the government imposed as a measure to limit the spread of COVID-19. Curfew hours in the nation's capital were originally 1900-0600 and have been scaled back to 2100-0500. Religious leaders have reportedly been cooperating with the government in an effort to convince protesters that the prohibition is critical to the public health and the entire country can be viewed as a house of worship; however, it remains unclear whether authorities will ultimately reopen mosques in order to avert further violence. Additional demonstrations are possible in cities throughout Niger over the coming days. Ramadan begins April 24 and the observance will end May 23.

Other restrictive measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 remain in place. These include:

  • Land borders are closed until further notice. International passenger flights are suspended through at least April 25; this is likely to be extended. The repatriation of foreign nationals is ongoing. It is likely that the transport of essential goods is ongoing.
  • Large gatherings are banned. There are other restrictions on public gatherings, including a suspension of religious events.


The security forces will almost certainly deploy to monitor and enforce the restrictions. Existing measures may be extended or new restrictions imposed with little to no advance notice.

Background and Analysis
Most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Niger, have reported imported and transmitted cases of COVID-19. Niger, like many countries on the continent, will likely struggle to contain and slow the spread of the disease, given poor medical conditions compared to severely affected countries with better medical facilities.

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
Follow all official instructions. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. 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. Plan for possible ground shipping and travel delays; seek alternative routes and shipping methods for time-sensitive cargo. Avoid all demonstrations.

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 Organization: www.who.int

Ministry of Health Coronavirus Website: https://coronavirus.ne