Panama to extend lockdowns in effort to curb coronavirus

FILE PHOTO:  A woman gets tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City
FILE PHOTO: A woman gets tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, Panama October 16, 2020. REUTERS/Erick Marciscano/File Photo

December 28, 2020

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – Panama will extend lockdowns in two provinces, including the capital, from Jan. 4 – 14 in an effort to contain a jump in coronavirus cases in the heavily populated areas, the health minister said on Sunday.

With 231,357 registered COVID-19 cases and 3,840 deaths, Panama is the Central American nation that has accumulated the highest number of infections.

Under the lockdown measures, which authorities last week said would go into effect nationwide from Dec. 31 – Jan. 4, residents may only leave their homes for essential services such as medical appointments and grocery shopping, Health Minister Luis Sucre said.

Faced with a spike in hospitalizations, officials are working to increase the country’s hospital capacity and hire extra healthcare staff, he added.

(Reporting by Elida Moreno, Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; editing by Diane Craft)