Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Bolivia seals off Oruro Department to stem the spread of COVID-19. Other restrictions remain in place until at least May 10.

This alert affects Bolivia

This alert began 05 May 2020 22:44 GMT and is scheduled to expire 11 May 2020 08:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 10
  • Impact: Transport and commercial disruptions, increased police presence

Bolivian authorities have cordoned off Oruro Department until May 10; the department has experienced a sharp rise in cases of coronavirus (COVID-19). During this time, no one may enter or exit the department, and businesses, including banks and markets, are closed.

Elsewhere in the country to further combat COVID-19, strict movement and business restrictions remain in effect until at least May 10. Under the restrictions, only one person per household is allowed to leave home one designated day a week between the hours of 0700-1200 to purchase groceries and other supplies. The individual must be between 18-65 years old. Shopping days are assigned based on the last digit of the individual's national identification card or passport, as follows:

  • Monday: Last digit is 1 or 2
  • Tuesday: Last digit is 3 or 4
  • Wednesday: Last digit is 5 or 6
  • Thursday: Last digit is 7 or 8
  • Friday: Last digit is 9 or 0

No one is allowed to leave their homes on Saturdays and Sundays. Public and private transport remain suspended; transportation of essential goods, as well as for health and security services, is operating normally. Violations of the quarantine regulations are punishable by fines and incarceration.

Additionally, Bolivia's land borders remain closed to all nonresident foreign nationals; cargo transport is allowed. All international passenger flights remain suspended, and passenger vehicles are prohibited from inter-departmental road travel. According to authorities, the border closures and travel bans will likely last until at least May 30. Officials may expand or extend any of the restrictions currently in place with little-to-no advance notice.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by the Bolivian government are similar to actions adopted by other governments globally in recent weeks in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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