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21 Mar 2020 | 01:40 PM UTC

Albania: Government deploys troops amid 40-hour COVID-19 curfew beginning March 21 /update 3

Albanian government deploys troops to enforce 40-hour curfew beginning March 21 amid coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic; further international spread of COVID-19 to be expected over the near term

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Event

The Albanian government deployed troops to enforce a 40-hour curfew beginning at 13:00 (local time) on Saturday, March 21, amid growing concerns over the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak within the country's borders. The move comes after many Albanians reportedly ignored previous orders to stay at home and practice social distancing. Prime Minister Edi Rama cautioned Albanians that security forces would use force to compel compliance with the curfew, including the use of tear gas and water cannons if needed. Emergencies are exempt from the new curfew measures.

Albania's land borders have been closed and all schools, universities, bars, churches, restaurants, and gyms have been temporarily shuttered; supermarkets and pharmacies remain open, though some may have abbreviated operating hours. Large public gatherings, including cultural and sporting events, have been canceled.

As of Saturday, 76 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Albania. Further international spread of COVID-19 is 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 labored 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 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 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.