Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Niger extend suspension of all international passenger flights through May 9 to curb the spread of COVID-19.

This alert affects Niger

This alert began 29 Apr 2020 11:45 GMT and is scheduled to expire 29 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant travel, transport, and business disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Niger have extended the suspension of all international passenger flights through at least May 9 to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). All land borders remain closed until further notice. Travel in and out of Niamey is also prohibited and roads are closed through to May 9.

The extension of travel restrictions comes after authorities eased curfew measures April 22, following demonstrations in Niamey. 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 residents that the measures are critical to public health, particularly during the holy period of Ramadan. Additional demonstrations are possible in cities throughout Niger over the coming days. Ramadan began April 24 and the observance will end May 23. Large gatherings remain banned.

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.


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