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31 Mar 2020 | 10:48 PM UTC

El Salvador: First COVID-19-related death confirmed March 31 /update 9

El Salvador confirms first COVID-19 death on March 31; further spread of disease likely over near term



According to regional media sources, the President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, confirmed on Tuesday, March 31, the first coronavirus (COVID-19)-related death in the country. Reportedly, the patient had returned from the US and was in a critical condition before succumbing to the disease. There have been 32 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country to date.

President Nayib Bukele announced a nationwide lockdown beginning Sunday, March 22, during which residents are required to observe a home quarantine for 30 days amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Only one person per household is permitted to go out for shopping. Public spaces are to close with the exception of grocery stores, banks, and health services. Several essential professions are exempt from the lockdown, including doctors, public servants, the military, police, and restaurant workers, among others.


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 general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide 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.