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08 Apr 2020 | 07:16 AM UTC

US: Restrictions tightened in Puerto Rico as COVID-19 cases reach 399,900 nationwide April 7 /update 38

Additional COVID-19 restrictions implemented in Puerto Rico as cases rise to over 399,900 nationwide on April 7; follow authority directives

health
transportation
USA

Event

On Sunday, April 5, Puerto Rico's governor announced additional restrictions amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the island. Included in the restrictions is a new policy in which face masks are required when entering a business. Businesses reserve the right to turn customers away should they not wear masks. The ongoing curfew in Puerto Rico requires residents to remain indoors from 19:00 to 05:00 (local time). Outside these hours, residents may only leave home for essential goods and services. Violators to the curfew face a USD 5000 fine or a six-month jail term.

On Tuesday, April 8, the US recorded the single highest day increase in COVID-19 deaths on record, with 1736. The number of confirmed cases is 399,929, including 12,911 total deaths since the pandemic began. New York remains the most affected state with 140,386 cases and 5489 deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days with immediate effect. Exemptions are made for those in infrastructure industries including public health, trucking, financial services, and food supply. Most US states have implemented stay-at-home measures. President Donald Trump has announced the extension of a nationwide stay-at-home and social distancing guideline through Thursday, April 30.

Meanwhile, the US-Canada border remains closed to all nonessential travel from Friday, March 20, until Monday, April 20. On the same date, authorities announced that the US and Mexico will also close their shared border to nonessential travel from Saturday, March 21; the border closures will reportedly not affect trade.

Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.

Context

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.

Advice

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.