Severity: Warning Alert

Health: Ongoing COVID-19 activity in Central America during September 2020. Panama reports most cases. Maintain basic health precautions.

Alert Begins 02 Sep 2020 07:49 AM UTC
Alert Expires 02 Nov 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), local transmission
  • Location(s): Central America (map)
  • Period: March-September 2020
  • Transmission: Respiratory (coughing, sneezing, speaking)

Several countries and territories in Central America continue to report coronavirus disease (COVID-19) transmission. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains a "Warning Level-3" travel health notice, the highest of three levels, that indicates authorities recommend avoiding nonessential travel due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. According to data through Aug. 31 from the WHO, the following countries and territories in Central America have identified confirmed COVID-19 cases:

Community transmission:


  • Panama: 90,624 cases


  • Guatemala: 73,679 cases


  • Honduras: 58,810 cases


  • Costa Rica: 38,485 cases


  • El Salvador: 25,537 cases


  • Nicaragua: 3,659 cases


  • Belize: 870 cases



Background and Analysis
Additional cases may be added to this list at any time as disease surveillance and testing continues.

The US CDC maintains a "Warning-Level 3" travel health notice for the global COVID-19 pandemic. This is the highest of three levels and indicates US authorities recommend avoiding all nonessential travel. Furthermore, older individuals and people of any age with chronic medical conditions or otherwise compromised immunity should consider postponing nonessential travel, including domestic travel, and take special precautions to avoid becoming ill, especially where sustained community transmission of COVID-19 has been identified. All individuals should monitor their health and limit interactions with others for 14 days after returning from travel.

Older individuals and those with chronic illness are more susceptible to infection and are at increased risk for severe complications. Human-to-human transmission does occur, primarily through respiratory droplets from infected individuals or contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.

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.

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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