The government of the Central African Republic has permitted the resumption of international flights from Bangui-M'Poko International Airport (BGF) as of Wednesday, September 30, following months of restricted operations due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Although commercial international flights have resumed, air travel options to the country remain limited and the frequency of flights airlines are permitted to operate may be restricted. Evidence of a recent negative COVID-19 test result is not required for entry into the country, but travelers will be subject to health screening on arrival, including temperature checks and a travel and health questionnaire.
International travelers arriving in the CAR are required to quarantine at their own accommodation for 21 days from their date of arrival. However, international organizations and NGO staff can take a commercial COVID-19 test in Bangui and end their quarantine period on receipt of a negative test result.
Hygiene and social distancing measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic remain in effect in the CAR, but restrictions are open to interpretation by local authorities and may not be consistently enforced. The country entered phase two of its COVID-19 response plan in June, and places of worship, restaurants, and some non-essential businesses have been permitted to reopen. However, the use of face masks remains compulsory in public places and large gatherings are prohibited.
As of September 30, there have been 4806 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the CAR, with 62 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected in 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). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
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 nonessential 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 COVID-19 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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