Volcanic Eruption in North Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo
As the COVID-19 situation around the world changes, CDC is monitoring COVID-19 risk in each country and making travel recommendations. If you are considering international travel, see CDC’s COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination.
- On May 22, 2021, Mount Nyiragongo, a volcano in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), erupted without warning.
- Electricity, drinking water, and food supplies have been adversely affected. Many thousands of people have been displaced.
- If you must travel to North Kivu province, obey all instructions from local authorities.
Volcanoes can produce ash, toxic gases, lava flows, flash floods of hot water, and fast-moving flows of hot gases and debris. When a volcano erupts, some dangers can occur with little or no notice.
Volcanic eruptions can result in additional threats, including mudslides, power outages, contamination of tap water, and wildfires.
Serious health concerns after a volcanic eruption include respiratory illnesses, suffocation, burns, injuries from ashfall, and collapsed structures, infectious diseases, and vehicle accidents related to the conditions caused by ash.
What is the current situation?
On May 22, 2021, Mount Nyiragongo, a volcano about 20 km (12.5 miles) from the city of Goma, erupted. There is ongoing risk of further volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Electricity, drinking water and food supplies have been adversely affected.
CDC recommends that U.S. residents avoid nonessential travel to North Kivu province in the DRC. On May 27, 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, DRC, issued a Security Alert advising U.S. citizens in Goma to follow official evacuation orders and to depart affected areas of the city. The Embassy’s ability to provide consular services to U.S. citizens who remain in Goma is limited. Check the U.S. Embassy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Alerts and Messages webpage for the latest information.
If you must travel, take steps to protect yourself.
- Check the CDC website
- CDC COVID-19 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Get fully vaccinated before travel. See International Travel During COVID-19.
- Check CDC’s DRC destination page for additional information about health concerns in the DRC and travel health recommendations
- Check the U.S. Department of State website.
- Democratic Republic of the Congo International Travel Information
- Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP): enroll online to receive security updates and information about emergency assistance
- Make an appointment to see a travel medicine specialist or your healthcare provider to get needed vaccines and medicines. CDC recommends all travelers be up to date on all recommended vaccines, such as the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP), and measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
- Pack a travel health kit with prescription medicines and over-the-counter medicines (enough to last the whole trip, plus a little extra), first aid supplies, and health insurance card.
- Authorized emergency responders and humanitarian aid workers may need to pack additional items.
- Prepare for the unexpected.
- Leave copies of your itinerary, contact information, credit cards, and passport with someone at home in case they are lost during travel.
- Buy travel health and medical evacuation insurance. If you are injured or get sick during your trip, medical care may be unavailable.
- Pay attention to warnings and obey instructions from local authorities. Listen to local news updates for information about air and drinking water quality, dangerous road conditions, and other health threats.
- Avoid contact with ash. Volcanic ash can get into your lungs and airways, making it very hard to breathe. If you must go outside when ash is falling, wear a disposable respirator such as an N-95, or other face mask, and stay out for as short a time as possible. Ash can irritate your skin and eyes. Keep your skin covered and wear goggles.
- Do not drive unless absolutely necessary. Driving in ash is hazardous. It can also damage engines and make vehicles stall.
- Drink bottled water. See Food and Water Safety for more information on how to reduce risk of disease from contaminated food and drink.
If you get sick during or after travel
- If you feel sick during or after travel, seek medical care immediately and tell your healthcare provider about your activities during your trip, including contact with volcanic ash.
- If you are having a hard time coping after your trip, you may want to speak with a mental health professional. See Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event.
- Health Information for Travelers to Democratic Republic of the Congo
- CDC Website for Natural Disasters and Severe Weather: Volcanoes
- CDC Website for Air Quality: Volcanoes and Air Quality
- Humanitarian Aid Workers (CDC Yellow Book: Health Information for International Travel)