On Monday, March 16, President Nayib Bukele announced the temporary suspension of commercial flight operations into and out of El Salvador due to concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19). This followed an unconfirmed claim that Mexican authorities allowed several passengers with the virus to board a plane for the country. The measure is not expected to remain in place permanently, as Bukele stated the government is developing new protocols to allow flight connections to resume, though through San Salvador airport (SAL) exclusively.
Bukele previously declared a 30-day nationwide quarantine on Wednesday, March 11, in which all private and public schools have been canceled for 21 days from March 11, and gatherings of more than 500 people are also prohibited. The government is also banning all foreign nationals from entering the country for the next 21 days.
As of Tuesday, March 17, no cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in El Salvador. Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected over 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 (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 COVID-19 a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored 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.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or 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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