Interim President Jeanine Áñez announced on Thursday, March 12, that all flights to and from Europe will be temporarily suspended from 00:01 (local time) on Saturday, March 14, due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Áñez did not immediately say how long the measure will be in place. Additional preventative measures are also being implemented throughout Bolivia, including suspending all classes until at least Tuesday, March 31, and prohibiting gatherings of over 1000 people. Politicians running in the upcoming presidential elections in May also announced on Thursday that they would suspend mass gatherings during their campaign to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Enhance screening measures remain in place at all points of entry, as well as at tourism sites and hotels. Individuals with suspected cases of COVID-19 will be placed in mandatory isolation for 14 days as a precaution. As of Thursday, at least two cases of the virus have been confirmed in the country. According to the Ministry of Health, both individuals recently traveled to Italy and there have been no communal cases. Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected over the near term.
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.
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 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.