President Ivan Duque stated on Tuesday, May 12, that Colombia's border with Brazil is to be militarized in efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The Amazonas department, bordering Brazil, has seen a significant rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, and a heightened security presence at the border aims to oversee travel and enforce the lockdown measures in the department to reduce transmission to Colombian residents. Social distancing and mandatory face mask use have also been implemented in the area.
Separately, Duque extended the nationwide quarantine until Monday, May 25, though authorities were to begin relaxing measures from Monday, May 11, and the country will gradually reopen. Some sectors of the economy including retail stores were able to resume operations on May 11. The manufacturing and construction sectors had previously resumed operations. Children between the ages of 6 and 17 will also be allowed to participate in outdoor activities for 30 minutes, three days a week, as long as they are accompanied by an adult and social distancing measures are followed. However, individuals above the age of 70 are to remain under self-quarantine until Saturday, May 30, and the measures for those under-18 will be lifted on Sunday, May 31.
Municipalities without confirmed COVID-19 cases are permitted to re-open. However, large events remain banned, and bars and clubs continue to be closed. Only one person per family will be allowed to shop for essential items or to carry out financial transactions. Individuals are required to wear masks in stores, banks, and public transport, while restaurants are only allowed to provide deliveries.
All land and sea borders remain shut, and the country's airports are closed to international traffic until May 31.
As of Wednesday, May 13, a total of 12,272 COVID-19 cases and 493 fatalities have been confirmed in the country. Further international spread of the virus 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 (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 COVID-19 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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