MINSA: Press Release #16

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Wednesday March 18, 2020

Panama declares curfew as a contingency measure against the COVID-19 pandemic

The Ministry of Health (Minsa), in compliance with the responsibility granted by the President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo Cohen, announces that as of today, Wednesday, March 18, and starting at 9:00 p.m. a curfew will apply throughout the national territory.

This decision endorsed by the Government is aimed at guaranteeing the safety and health of all Panamanians and mitigating the effects of the pandemic declared by the World Health Organization.

Free mobility will be restored every day, from this date, at 5:00 am.

The exceptions to this measure include the public force, hospitals and health centers, markets and supermarkets, security companies and securities transport, and public transport for health reasons or those contracted by exempt establishments, as detailed in the executive decree number 490 that supports it, published in the Official State Gazette.

After the important announcement to the nation, President Cortizo launched the unprecedented “Plan Panamá Solidario” (Panama Solidarity Plan), which, with an initial allocation of 50 million Balboas, will distribute food and medicine vouchers among the most vulnerable groups, whom the country "won't abandon." "This is a team, and the team is called Panama," stressed the President in his message, who asked all Panamanians for "tranquility."

He also reported the decision to apply "zero tariffs" for products related to the recommended health and hygiene measures to face the pandemic and announced that the country's banks are "relaxing" their payments of mortgages, loans and cards for their clients.

On the other hand, the Government will support the financial companies to support up to 70,000 small businessmen and will allocate 40 million Balboas to acquire medical supplies and the necessary equipment to attend to COVID-19 patients and to be able to massify the tests.

The Ministry of Public Works, in turn, has been given the presidential mandate to build a modular hospital with a capacity of 100 beds and an intensive care unit with a capacity of 26 beds, which should be ready in a month.

The Minister of Health, Rosario Turner, received from the associations of the main medical specialties of the country a comprehensive protocol for the treatment of the new disease. This is to provide the guidelines necessary to treat all patients affected by COVID-19 in any hospital center, a guide that has been prepared from all the medical literature published since the health emergency was declared.

Likewise, the necessary viral transport means are being acquired to control the purity of the samples until they reach the laboratory.

Regarding the Rosa project, the digital platform that discriminates possible symptoms in an automated way, with the aim of offering medical evaluation to those who require it, it is reported that since its launch on Monday 16, 1,569 evaluations have been attended through its virtual triage system.

In compliance with decrees 472 and 489 that regulate the actual sanitary measures by the pandemic COVID-19 the “Fuerza de Tarea Conjunta de Seguridad Sanitaria” (the Joint Task Force for Sanitary Security), which in coordination with MINSA, heads the Ministry of Security and whose members are the National Police, the National Frontier Service (Senafront) and the National Immigration Service carried out 759 inspections in the metropolitan area between March 13 and 17.

Of the establishments visited, all of health and food interest, 28 were sanctioned with fines between 500 and 5,585 Balboas.

In the special district of San Miguelito, there were 30 surveillance operations, between March 16 and 17 and only three sanctions were issued. Similar operations have been carried out throughout the country.

Data update

As of March 18, by 4:00 p.m., 109 confirmed cases have been detected, 55 men and 54 women, including the four detected in Veraguas.

There are 17 hospitalized patients, 8 in the ward and 9 in intensive care, a figure that has not changed since yesterday and 91 comply with home isolation.

1,455 tests have been carried out for COVID-19, of which 1,346 were negative.

The data by province are as follows:

Western Panama – 19 cases
Northern Panama – 8 cases
Metropolitan area – 61 cases
San Miguelito – 16 cases
Colón Province – 1
Veraguas – 4

The care of all these patients would not be possible without the dedicated work of nurses across the country, indispensable support from doctors and specialists, who work with confidence in their professionalism, dedication and commitment.

The next appointment of 85 health promoters was approved to attend to the needs of the Ngäbe Buglé region and other remote areas of the country.

All official information regarding the new coronavirus in Panama and the actions undertaken by the National Government are communicated through the official accounts of the Ministry of Health on the main social networks and on its website (www.minsa.gob.pa)

Also available is the 169 call center and the WhatsApp number 6997-2539.


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