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10 May 2020 | 08:43 PM UTC

DRC: Use of face masks compulsory in Matadi (Kongo Central province) from May 11 to curb spread of COVID-19 /update 14

DR Congo News Alert

Authorities in Matadi (Kongo Central province) mandate use of face masks in public from May 11 amid coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic; abide by all government directives

TIMEFRAME expected from 5/10/2020, 12:00 AM until 5/12/2020, 11:59 PM (Africa/Kinshasa). COUNTRY/REGION Matadi (Kongo Central province)

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Event

Authorities announced on Sunday, May 10, that the wearing of face masks in public will be compulsory in Matadi (Kongo Central province) as of Monday, May 11, to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Authorities will reportedly assess a penalty on those who do not adhere to the instruction; details regarding the penalty were not immediately released.

The Congolese government announced on Thursday, May 7, that it would partially reopen the border crossing with Zambia for pedestrians from Friday, May 8. All travelers are required to comply with preventive measures, which include wearing masks, temperature checks, and social distancing. The latest announcement comes after demonstrations denouncing the closure of all land, sea, and air borders imposed by authorities on Wednesday, March 20.

The wearing of face masks in public has been mandatory in Lubumbashi since Monday, May 4, notably in stores and markets, on public transport, and in public service offices. According to local authorities, individuals who do not respect the measures are subject to a 5000 CFA Franc (USD 8) fine. The first COVID-19 case was reported in the area on April 24.

Previously, on April 22, authorities announced the reopening of supermarkets and certain banks in the administrative and commercial center of the capital Kinshasa (Gombe district), following previous lockdown measures. The use of face masks has been made compulsory in public spaces in Kinshasa since April 20.

On March 23, President Felix Tshisekedi declared a state of emergency, closing the country's borders and banning all inbound and outbound traffic. Only trucks, ships, and planes carrying cargo will be allowed to enter the country.

As of May 10, health authorities have confirmed 991 COVID-19 cases across the DRC, as well as 41 related deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone non-essential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.

 

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