Leading global risk company Riskline has released its latest report detailing risk levels around the world, specific country updates and the latest advice.
These travel risks have been compiled by Riskline’s worldwide team of travel risk analysts who monitor and review issues daily.
“The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic on 11 March. The outbreak has had a severe impact on international travel; disruptions to flights and other modes of transport as well as lockdowns and movement restrictions have taken place with little to no prior warning. Anyone undertaking travel at this time should ensure they are in good health, exercise good hygiene practices and be prepared for unexpected disruptions to their travel plans. Travellers from affected countries may face mandatory quarantine at their destination. Reconfirm itineraries prior to departure and closely follow travel alerts and advisories. During travel to any destination and for up to 14 days after returning, individuals should monitor themselves for any flu-like symptoms – especially fever or shortness of breath. If experiencing any symptoms, travellers should self-isolate and contact their doctor or local authorities.
As the coronavirus outbreak has taken on a global dimension and the WHO has declared it a pandemic, most countries around the world have taken steps to prevent the outbreak from spreading further. Travellers should expect health screening measures – from non-invasive temperature screening to a full COVID-19 test involving nasal and throat swabs – at points of entry that remain open. Travellers may be quarantined until test results are complete.
Visibly ill travellers or those suspected of having the virus are likely to be interviewed and may be required to fill out health declaration forms to allow for a proper risk assessment and possible contact tracing; in some cases the visibly ill will be prevented from travelling altogether. Travellers displaying symptoms, including a fever, cough or difficulty breathing; those with a potential exposure to the virus; and those testing positive for COVID-19 are likely to be isolated at the point of entry before being transferred to a designated quarantine or healthcare facility for further assessment and treatment. Those deemed healthy that are allowed to enter may still be required to monitor their health daily and report it to local authorities by phone or through an app.
Where flights still operate, an increasing number of countries have implemented a mandatory 14-day quarantine, either at home or at a designated facility, for all arrivals regardless of nationality, symptoms or recent travel history. In some locations, this quarantine has been extended to 28 days. Elsewhere, authorities have implemented similar quarantine measures for travellers arriving from countries with a high number of COVID-19 cases. Furthermore, a growing number of countries have either banned all foreign nationals or restricted entry for passengers who have recently been to coronavirus-affected destinations.
There are related risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic which may manifest as the crisis evolves in certain countries.
Service Disruptions: The infection of essential workers and measures to prevent the spread of the virus in critical sectors of the economy have the potential to cause both short- and long-term impacts on critical services and infrastructure. In a worse-case scenario, this could cause disruptions to essential services such as drinking water, electricity and food production and distribution. The risk of looting and other unrest sparked by poor service delivery increases as the virus spreads.
Strikes: In addition to service disruptions caused directly by the outbreak, workers may strike or participate in other forms of labour action. Warehouse, delivery and healthcare workers have already walked off the job in several countries over a lack of protective equipment and other work conditions. Further strikes are certain and carry the potential to disrupt essential services.
Protests and Unrest: Some populations may respond with hostility to prolonged movement controls – such as curfews or household lockdowns – invasive government tracking or the economic impact of COVID-19-related measures. Likewise, proposals for temporary treatment and isolation facilities or the
burial of COVID-19 fatalities have led to protests by local residents. Further unrest directed at authorities and symbols of the government is possible and may have a negative impact on containment of the virus.
Since the start of the outbreak, protests have erupted in Kazakhstan, Egypt, Somalia, Côte d’Ivoire, Brazil, Haiti, Ukraine, Papua New Guinea, Chile, the Philippines, Pakistan, India, Israel, Iraq, Kenya, Colombia, Lebanon, Honduras, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other countries over governments’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly over the distribution of food and medical care within communities facing shortages as well as by religious groups demanding to reopen houses of worship to the public.
Terrorism: Anti-government and other extremist individuals or groups may attempt to carry out attacks targeting symbols of the state – including politicians, government infrastructure or military personnel – or health workers and medical infrastructure in response to actual or perceived government overreach during the pandemic.
Xenophobic Attacks: Violence directed at foreigners perceived to be responsible for the outbreak of the disease is increasingly likely over time. In the initial stages, anti-Chinese and anti-Asian sentiment and physical attacks were reported globally. As the outbreak shifted to Europe, attacks against perceived Europeans were reported, specifically in some African countries. As the outbreak has grown in the United States (US), similar hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans have been reported.
Fraud and Scams: Criminals may attempt to exploit the pandemic as an opportunity to profit through scams, phishing attacks, malware and other forms of fraud. Indeed, approximately 3,600 new internet domains containing the word “coronavirus” were created between 14 and 18 March alone. Common scams involving soliciting donations for medical supplies through email and fake fines sent by text message for violating lockdown.
Take common sense precautions for digital security, including verifying URLs and the source of message attachments before opening them.
Surveillance: There is a possibility of increased surveillance of individuals and the general public. Personal information may be disclosed to the public, especially for those who are diagnosed with the virus. Exercise discretion in deciding to communicate sensitive or personal information through electronic devices.
Targeting Vulnerable Groups: Using the COVID-19 outbreak as a pretext, governments may attempt to target vulnerable groups – minorities, LGBTQ+ community, journalists, opposition politicians and activists – in arrests or violent attacks.
Severe Weather and Natural Disasters: Preparations for and response to natural disasters are complicated by the COVID-19 outbreak; authorities must update plans and respond in ways that reduce the risk of transmission. Those affected by evacuation orders or forced to seek communal shelter following a disaster may be at higher risk of contracting the virus as some distancing measures – such as ‘stay at home’ – may not be possible.”