Latin American countries have begun imposing emergency measures – such as closing schools and banning public gatherings – as they make an all-out effort to contain the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Jamaica has ordered schools closed after two of its citizens tested positive. The measures came on the heels of bans on cruise ships and flights from many European countries labeled as the new epicenter of COVID-19.
Puerto Rico has declared a health emergency, announcing that it would screen everyone entering the island. As many as 17 people are suspected of having contracted the virus in this US overseas territory.
Brazil, the worst hit in the region, has closed schools in parts of Sao Paulo after a few celebrities and senior government officials confirmed that they had been infected with the virus. The number of patients also jumped to 150 on Saturday, with 30 more people reporting the disease.
Guatemala has temporally suspended all flights to and from North America. “Everyone who arrives from Canada and the United States between now and midnight on Monday will be subject to quarantining,” Guatemala President stated a televised address to the nation on Friday.
Colombia closed its border with Venezuela after the South American country reported its first coronavirus case earlier in the weekend. Panama, the primary victim of the virus in Central America, has gone a step ahead to close even universities.
Venezuela and El Salvador have also declared a health emergency, refusing to welcome foreigners and suspending flights to Europe and other countries.
The outbreak of the virus is causing fear and fury in some countries. In Haiti, for example, residents pelted stones at a hotel in Tabarre where a dozen patients from neighboring Dominican Republic are quarantined.
The Bahamas is once again facing criticism from human rights activists after reports emerged that it is trying to turn away another cruise ship on suspicion that it could be harboring passengers infected with the virus. A British cruise ship is reportedly in limbo off its coast, with its captain repeatedly pleading for permission to dock.
Latin America was expected to prove to be an unfriendly place for the virus because of its tropical heat. Still, the disease has continued to spread rapidly, with many countries reporting more new cases with every passing day.