Severity: Warning Alert      

Health: Central American countries reporting COVID-19 cases in July. Panama reports highest case numbers. Maintain basic health precautions.

  • Alert Begins: 31 Jul 2020 09:55 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 01 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Event: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), local transmission
  • Location(s): Central America (map)
  • Period: March-July 2020

Summary
Several Central American countries have identified imported cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and, in some areas, human-to-human transmission. According to WHO data through July 31, confirmed cases have been identified in the following countries:

Countries reporting community transmission:

 

  • Panama: 62,223 cases

 

  • Guatemala: 47,605 cases

 

  • Honduras: 40,460 cases

 

  • Costa Rica: 16,344 cases

 

  • El Salvador: 15,841 cases

 

  • Nicaragua: 3,080 cases

 

  • Belize: 48 cases

 

 

Background and Analysis
Additional cases and locations 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 outbreak. 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, infants, and those with chronic illness are more susceptible to infection and are at increased risk for severe complications. Human-to-human transmission can occur, though it remains unclear how easily the virus spreads between people.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (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.

Advice
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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