President Alejandro Giammattei announced on Thursday, May 14, that additional restrictions would be put in place from Thursday to 05:00 (local time) on Monday, May 18, in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Except for the transportation of food, water, medicine, gas, and permitted essential services, nothing else may be transported during the abovementioned dates.
Food stores will only be permitted to open between the hours of 08:00-11:00 from Friday through Sunday. Additionally, individuals should only travel by foot; the use of private vehicles is prohibited.
Guatemala's Congress voted to extend the current state of calamity until June 5 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A nationwide curfew remains in effect from 18:00 and 04:00; essential personnel, including police, private security, medical professionals, and food-delivery drivers, will be exempt. Interdepartmental travel remains prohibited except for freight. Shopping malls are to remain closed and markets that do not comply with COVID-19 prevention measures will be shut down.
Individuals are still required to comply with social-distancing rules, requiring people to stay at least 1.5 m (4.9 ft) apart and utilize face masks in all public spaces; breaking these regulations may result in heavy fines. Guatemalan authorities have further stated that all international and domestic flights will remain suspended until further notice, with the exception of certain humanitarian, medical, or official flights, which need prior authorization from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
As of Friday, May 15, health authorities have confirmed 1518 COVID-19 cases and 29 associated deaths in the country. Further spread of the virus is 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 (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.
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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