Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei announced on Monday, March 16, that all borders will be closed for 15 days from 00:01 (local time) on Tuesday, March 17, to prevent further spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country. Only Guatemalan citizens and accredited diplomats will be allowed to enter the country by land but will be placed in a seven-day quarantine upon arrival. A care center for individuals affected by COVID-19 is being set up in the Industrial Park in the capital, Guatemala City.
Other containment measures remain in place as of Monday, including the suspension of all public and private school classes until at least March 28. Gatherings of more than 100 people are also prohibited, and football matches must be suspended or played without fans in attendance. Further restrictions may be implemented over the near term.
As of March 16, six cases of the virus have been confirmed in Guatemala, along with one fatality. Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected over the coming days and weeks.
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.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
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, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.