Guatemalan authorities announced the extension of a nationwide curfew until Monday, April 27, to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country. All movement will continue to be restricted nightly, now between 18:00 and 04:00 (local time). Exceptions will be made for essential personnel, including police, private security, medical professionals, and food-delivery drivers. Grocery stores will be closed during the abovementioned hours. The curfew previously ran from 16:00 to 04:00 and has been in place since Sunday, March 15. The town of Ixcanal (El Progreso department) has been placed on lockdown with residents barred from entering or leaving. Residents in Chimaltenango, El Progreso, Guatemala, and Sacatepequez are barred from traveling into other departments until April 27. Travel between other regions is now permitted, though exclusively by taxi or private vehicle and only outside curfew hours.
Starting Sunday, April 12, individuals are required to comply with social distancing rules, requiring people to stay at least 1.5 m (4.9 ft) apart and utilize face masks in all public spaces. Breaking these regulations may result in heavy fines. They further stated that all international and domestic flights will remain suspended until Thursday, April 30, with the exception of certain humanitarian, medical, or official flights, which need prior authorization from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
As of Tuesday, April 21, a total of 294 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Guatemala, including seven associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be 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 (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 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.