The commune of Gombe, the administrative and commercial centre of Kinshasa, will be placed under lockdown for 14 days from Monday, April 6, to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Health workers, the press, and those going to hospital will be the only people allowed in or out of the commune during the lockdown period. The decision to confine only Gombe follows the postponement on Friday, March 27, of a planned lockdown for the entire capital amid fear of price speculation on basic goods and increased insecurity in the city.
On Monday, March 23, President Felix Tshisekedi declared a state of emergency with immediate effect, 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.
To date, there are 134 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the DRC, with 13 associated deaths. Further spread of COVID-19 is likely 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.