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22 Mar 2020 | 01:54 PM UTC

El Salvador: Government implements 30-day nationwide quarantine March 21 /update 7

President Bukele orders mandatory nationwide quarantine for 30 days effective March 21 due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic; further spread of the virus expected

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Event

On Saturday, March 21, President Nayib Bukele announced a mandatory nationwide quarantine for 30 days, effective immediately, to prevent further spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Per the directive, all residents are being requested to limit non-essential movement, and only one person per family will be allowed out to shop for basic necessities. Exemptions will be made for police, soldiers, journalists, and health care workers. According to Bukele, those found in violation of the quarantine will be arrested and transferred to a confinement center. Essential services and businesses such as public transit, banks, and pharmacies will remain operational, as will restaurants providing takeout. 

To date, there are three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country. 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 (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.

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 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.