Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele announced on Sunday, July 19, that the second phase of economic reopening in El Salvador will be postponed as experts' assessments identified a continued rise in the number of confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases. The second phase of economic reopening was due to begin on Tuesday, July 21. Authorities have not indicated when the second phase is now planned to begin as of Monday morning, July 20. The second phase had previously been postponed, and was initially set to begin on July 7. The second phase will reportedly allow public transportation, business services, manufacturers, and a number of industries and restaurants to resume operations. Authorities also reportedly announced that the third phase of economic reopening will begin on August 4, the fourth phase on August 18, and the fifth on September 1. These dates are subject to change dependent on the situation in-country with the number of infections.
The government began the gradual process of reopening the economy on June 16 with the easing of some movement and business restrictions. The 24/7 nationwide curfew was lifted. Certain business operations resumed, though businesses are still urged to allow employees to work from home if possible, and those which have resumed will be at a limited capacity. These industries included construction, textile, and electronic manufacturing business, cargo transport, medical and veterinary services for emergencies and appointments, restaurants and retail stores for delivery and take away services, government offices, and repair and maintenance services. Essential services such as supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, petrol station, and home delivery food outlets, can continue to operate. Private transport is allowed to resume for employees returning to work. Taxis and ride-sharing Uber services have also resumed operations. Individuals are required to wear face masks when leaving their accommodation. Schools, universities, and parks remain closed.
The El Salvador International Airport (SAL) is reportedly set to reopen to commercial passenger flights, including international flights, on August 18. The airport is currently open only for cargo and humanitarian flights.
As of July 20, there have been 11,846 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, and 344 associated fatalities. Further international 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 (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
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 general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by 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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