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19 Apr 2020 | 08:16 AM UTC

DRC: Face masks mandatory in Kinshasa from April 20 /update 9

Local authorities in Kinshasa announce face masks mandatory in public spaces from April 20; restrictions in Gombe to begin easing April 21



Local authorities in the capital Kinshasa announced on Saturday, April 18, that the use of face masks will be compulsory in public spaces in the capital as of Monday, April 20, to prevent further spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Security personnel will be deployed to ensure that these measures are met as well as social distancing and hygienic measures already imposed by health authorities.

Furthermore, the lockdown measures in the commune of Gombe, the administrative and commercial center of Kinshasa, initially imposed on April 15, will be gradually eased as of Tuesday, April 21. Reports indicate that supermarkets and grocery stores plan to be reopened and residents will be permitted to visit them. Travel into and out of the commune will still be regulated with health workers, the press, and those going to hospital being the only people with permission during the lockdown period.

On Monday, March 23, President Felix Tshisekedi declared a state of emergency, 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.

As of Saturday, April 18, there are 307 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 25 associated deaths nationwide. Further international spread of the virus is to be 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). 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.