Health Alert

Note:  This information will continue to be sent regularly for the benefit of new registrants in STEP. We will be sure to highlight any new information from previous emails.

Location:  Bujumbura, Burundi

Event:On Wednesday, March 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 2 Global COVID-19 Outbreak Notice.

On Saturday, March 14, the Department of State authorized, from any diplomatic or consular post in the world, the departure of U.S. personnel and family members who have been medically determined to be at higher risk of a poor outcome if exposed to COVID-19.

On Monday, March 16, U.S. Embassy Bujumbura has suspended routine consular services. For emergency American Citizens Services, including emergency passports, please visit our website for additional information.

On Thursday, March 19, the Department of State issued a Global Level 4 Health Advisory for COVID-19.

On Saturday, March 21, the Ministry of Transport, Public Works, Equipment, and Homeland Planning announced that all international commercial flights departing from or arriving to Melchior Ndadaye International Airport would be suspended for seven days.  Only cargo, medical evacuation, humanitarian, and diplomatic flights are exempt.  The notice took effect on March 22, 2020 at 21:59 GMT.  U.S. citizens who are considering returning to the United States are urged to work with their airlines to make travel arrangements when flights become available.

On Thursday, March 26, the Government of Burundi’s spokesperson, Prosper Ntahorwamiye, released a communique dated March 25 summarizing its COVID-19 prevention and control measures as being:  hygiene measures by the Ministry of Public Health, quarantine measures for people coming from countries with confirmed cases of COVID-19, visa suspensions, measures to suspend official GoB trips abroad, and flight suspensions at Melchior Ndadaye International Airport.  The document requested compliance by the population with COVID-19 prevention measures in place, as well as with subsequent progressive prevention measures not yet implemented.  In addition, the document issues a warning for the international community not to take additional measures on top of what the GoB has already done, citing the temporary closures of the Belgian School (l’Ecole Belge) and French School (l’Ecole Française de Bujumbura) as “unilateral, extreme, hasty measures.”

On Friday, March 27, the Ministry of Transport, Public Works, Equipment, and Homeland Planning announced a seven-day extension, beginning on March 28 at 21:59 GMT, of the existing seven-day airport closure that began on March 22 and was otherwise set to expire on March 28. The document emphasized that the extension did not affect cargo, medevac, humanitarian, or diplomatic flights and was subject to change.

As of March 30, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Burundi. The Government of Burundi has implemented enhanced screening and quarantine measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice.  Many travelers worldwide have reported unexpected flight cancellations and limited flight availability.  If your travel has been disrupted, please contact your airline.

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