Panamanian aviation authorities announced on Friday, May 15, that international passenger flights will remain suspended until Monday, June 22, in an effort to curb the further spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Domestic flights also remain suspended with no confirmed date of resumption. Humanitarian, medical, and repatriation flights are exempt from the suspension.
Previously the Panamanian government announced plans to begin a six-phased reopening of its economy starting from Wednesday, May 13. According to reports, e-commerce, mechanical workshops, spare parts shops, technical services, industrial fishing, and aquaculture are allowed to reopen in the first phase. The dates for the reopening of additional sectors in the next phases are yet to be determined, though reports suggest that the second phase will include the reopening of the construction sector, non-metallic mining and industry, and religious services and sports activities under social distancing conditions.
Quarantine measures continue nationwide despite the partial reopening of the economy on May 13, whereby men and women can leave their residences for two hours a day on alternate days. On Friday, May 1, the government announced an indefinite extension of the quarantine measures. Under these measures, women can only leave their homes for essential purchases on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; men are free to do so on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Individuals are only allowed to leave their homes/accommodation to shop for food and medication for one hour, with a 30 minute grace period either side, according to the last digit of their passport. Individuals should not leave their residences/accommodation on Sundays. Essential workers are exempt from the above restrictions.
Furthermore, it is mandatory for all individuals to wear face masks in Panama City outside of their accommodation. It is encouraged to wear face masks everywhere else. Reports indicate that some pharmacy and supermarket chains have stated customers are required to wear masks in these establishments.
All adults over 60 years old and people with disabilities, regardless of their ID number, will be able to make their purchases between 11:00 and 13:00 (local time), though on the designated dates assigned by their gender. Individuals who disobey these health controls could be fined between USD 50,000 to USD 100,000.
As of Saturday, May 16, there are 9118 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Panama and 266 associated deaths. 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 nonessential 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.
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