On Saturday, June 20, the Parliament of the Democratic Republic of Congo extended the state of health emergency currently in place due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic upon the request of the government for a further 15 days through July 5. This is the fifth time the state of health emergency has been extended since it was declared on March 24, although deputies have indicated they expect this to be the final extension. Authorities are also reportedly planning on reviewing the current suspension of all flights, with a view to resuming firstly domestic then international flights in the coming weeks.
On Tuesday, June 16, a COVID-19 treatment center was ransacked in Bwindi following protests over the shooting of a young man in Bukavu (South Kivu province). Authorities stated that the young man, killed on Monday, June 15, was shot by unidentified gunmen, although protesters believed that he was shot by local police who were enforcing a curfew in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. Although the Bwindi treatment center was damaged during the attack, no injuries to staff or patients were reported.
The governor of Haut-Katanga province, Jacques Kyabula Katwe, announced on Tuesday, June 16, that several major urban centers in the region will be placed on lockdown on Saturday, June 20, and Sunday, June 21, as authorities attempt to increase COVID-19 testing. The provincial capital Lubumbashi and the border towns of Kasumbalesa and Kipushi will be covered by the local lockdowns, which will see movement and public activities restricted over the weekend as teams launch a major public testing campaign to coincide with the opening of provincial medical laboratory facilities. The neighboring province of Lualaba will also impose restrictions on travel into Haut-Katanga between Thursday, June 18, and Monday, June 22, with exceptions for the transport of food, medical supplies, and mining materials.
The Congolese government has been easing COVID-19 restrictions across the country since the end of April, with the reopening of shops and other facilities in major urban centers and increased exceptions for cross-border travel. However, restrictions, including a ban on gatherings of more than 20 people, reduced public transport capacity, and the compulsory use of face masks in public, remain in force. More restrictive measures have been implemented by some local authorities.
As of June 20, health authorities have confirmed 5672 COVID-19 cases across the DRC, with 125 associated deaths. However, testing capacity has been limited and several NGOs and civil society organizations have stated that cases are likely to be significantly underreported. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
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.
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.
Copyright and Disclaimer