COVID-19 UPDATE: Last night, the president of Guatemala announced the complete closure of the country, effective immediately and lasting through Monday, May 18, at 5:00 a.m. As reason for these drastic measures, the president cited the day's record high of 176 positive tests for COVID-19 within the country, which represented a 194% increase over last week's totals.
Included in the closure are new stricter limits on all non-essential transportation and public activities. While businesses that have been deemed "essential" can continue to deliver food, medicine and fuel, heavy restrictions have been placed on private citizens.
Under the new declaration by the president, citizens will only be permitted to leave their homes for medical emergencies or to purchase essential items from small, local shops between the hours of 8 and 11 each morning. In addition, the trips to these local shops must be made on foot—all two and four-wheeled transportation has been banned until Monday, March 18.
After the lockdown ends on Monday, a new daily curfew of 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. will be imposed, and local markets and supermarkets will only be allowed to open 3 days a week, for limited hours. The country will once again be completely shut down next Thursday through the following Monday, this time apparently without the possibility of even going to local shops!
The government's response to the Coronavirus outbreak has been increasingly met with concern and criticism, especially from within Guatemala's medical community. Doctors at the provisional hospital set up in Guatemala City specifically to treat patients with COVID-19 recently signed an open letter alleging a lack of sufficient personal protection equipment within the hospital, a lack of a health plan for the medical staff that would provide them treatment should they become sick due to the Coronavirus, and the failure of the government to pay the salary of any of the doctors or paramedics working in the hospital since the pandemic began!
Medical staff at the government's Villa Nueva COVID-19 hospital have also protested a lack of medical personnel, stating currently there are only 3 doctors covering the 90 patients in the hospital, due to a number of the medical staff having been placed in quarantine.
While our clinic in San Andrés remained closed today out of respect for the government's restrictions and for the protection of our staff, our clinic will again be open on Monday to attend to emergencies and patients with greater need, as we have done over the past weeks. As always, we're taking every precaution we can to reduce the risk to each other, as well as to the communities we serve.
In this time, we are so very grateful for your support of Mission Guatemala, and the people we serve. Would you consider giving today to help us continue our work of "doing all the good we can" here in Guatemala?
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