Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in El Salvador extend mandatory nationwide quarantine, entry restrictions through at least April 28, to curb spread of COVID-19.

This alert affects El Salvador

This alert began 15 Apr 2020 13:00 GMT and is scheduled to expire 28 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least April 28
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions, travel restrictions, increased security

Summary
Authorities in El Salvador have extended a nationwide quarantine and entry restrictions through at least April 28, as part of the nation's efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The quarantine was first announced March 21. The 24-hour nationwide quarantine allows residents to leave their homes only to obtain basic goods, to care for a person in need, to attend a medical issue, or to go to work at an essential business or service. Only one person per household will be allowed to purchase basic goods, with a maximum of two times a week. If authorities find a person breaking the measures, they can screen the person's health and place them in a 30-day quarantine. If someone is driving a vehicle without authorization, the vehicle may be confiscated by authorities. Health officials will have the right to enter a person's home or business to asses health conditions and preventative measures to combat COVID-19.

Among the essential businesses and services that can remain open are those related to food production, distribution, and sales, utilities such as water and electricity, pharmacies and drug companies, banks, and companies whose products are necessary for the health emergency. Law enforcement agents, as well as essential government workers, and media personnel can also continue working. All essential workers must be properly identified on the streets, and any person must wear a protective mask outside of their home. Persons 60 years of age or older, pregnant women, and people with health difficulties must stay in self-quarantine, and restaurants can operate exclusively via delivery and carry-out service.

A ban on entry of nonresident foreign nationals has also been extended through at least April 28. Any person entering the country will be screened by health officials to determine if they must remain in self-quarantine. Cargo and humanitarian flights and vessels are not affected by the restrictions.

The measures in place are significantly impacting business and transport in the country, with larger than usual police presence in the streets. All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government of El Salvador correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days 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 WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

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.

Resources
WHO coronavirus knowledge base: www.who.int

Government of El Salvador COVID-19 Updates: https://covid19.gob.sv/

Government of El Salvador - Quarantine Order Extension: https://covid19.gob.sv