The Colombian government announced Wednesday, May 20, that the ban on international passenger flights will be extended until Monday, August 31, due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. As of May 20, commercial passenger flights are banned until the end of June. The closure of land borders and the national state of emergency (SoE) have also been extended until August 31.
A nationwide quarantine is in effect until Sunday, May 31. Children between the ages of 6 and 17 are 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. The measures for those under-18 will be lifted also on May 31.
The government plans to gradually relax lockdown measures, with the first phase of lifting measures set to take place throughout the month of June. During this period, authorities are likely to allow museums and libraries to reopen and household workers to go back to work. However, President Iván Duque stated that all land and sea borders will remain closed, including for domestic inter-regional travel, and all commercial passenger flights grounded. Plans also include the gradual reopening of schools in August. Further details on the gradual ease of lockdown measures are expected in the coming days.
President Duque earlier announced on Tuesday, May 12, that Colombia's border with Brazil was to be militarized in efforts to curb the spread of 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.
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.
As of May 20, authorities have confirmed 17,687 cases of COVID-19 in the country and 630 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be 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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