On 31 December 2019, a cluster of pneumonia of unknown etiology was reported in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of the People’s Republic of China. On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Committee declared the illness known as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), and on 11 March declared it a pandemic. Since the outbreak began, as of 23 March, more than 332,000 cases and over 14,500 deaths have been reported globally. Confirmed cases have been reported in 189 countries, territories and/or areas, with new cases and countries reporting on a daily basis.
The unprecedented scope and severity of the mobility restrictions applied by governments and regions since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, have had a complex and multifaceted impact on the global mobility context. A total of 174 countries, territories or areas that issued new or updated COVID-19 related travel restrictions as of 23 March. In the past few days, a total of 7,452 new travel restriction measures have been introduced, totaling at least 33,712 known COVID-19 related measures issued since the outbreak. While a preference for restrictions on all passengers alongside the closure of ports of entry may be observed through the measures issued over the past three days, countries, territories and areas continue to implement more diverse and simultaneous measures to restrict global mobility. Passenger restrictions based on arrival countries reported a 35 per cent increase over the past few days; there was a 23 per cent increase in medical restrictions; and 17 per cent increase in citizenship-based travel restrictions.
As cities and countries continue to impose lockdowns, IOM is observing significant returns of people including internal and cross-border migrants away from urban areas towards provincial areas or home countries. For example, after the announcement of lockdown measures in Bangkok in response to an increase in cases, thousands of internal migrants and migrants from neighboring countries left the city and returned to their home provinces or countries, including the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Cambodia and Myanmar. This may have the unintended effect of driving transmission in areas with less capacity to provide testing, isolation and treatmen