UPDATED: June 24, 2020 (Apologies for my lack of periodic updates. Thankfully, I am now able to start doing them again.)
Day 106 since the first Covid19 case.
As of June 23rd, Panama has identified 27,314 (0.64% of the population) total cases of Covid19
- Total tests conducted: 11,1735
- Test conducted today (June 23): 1745
- New cases identified on June 23rd: 562
- Positive test results: 32.21%
- Total hospitalized: 780 (including 131 in ICU)
- Total deaths: 536 (1.96% fatality rate)
The graph below shows the number of new coronavirus cases each day from March 27 to June 23, 2020. (FYI, the first confirmed Covid19 case in Panama was on March 9th.)
Cases by Location
You can find out the number of cases represented by each red dot area by clicking this link. Then click on a red dot and info will display the coronavirus cases in each “red dot” area.
Gov’t & Other Announcements
- Effective June 22, the Government of Panama authorizes the distribution, sale, and consumption of alcohol across the nation, lifting previous purchasing limits. Alcohol must be sold in sealed containers and is intended for home consumption only. However, if you live within a sanitary circle, this new alcohol policy does not apply. For people within a sanitary circle, you are still limited to purchasing a 6-pack of beer, or a bottle of wine, or a bottle of liquor at one-time.
- As of June 8, Panama’s National Immigration Service (SNM) started a 90-day period during which foreigners may submit applications to maintain or adjust their immigration status in Panama without incurring fines. This applies to applicants whose immigration status expired between March 13 and June 7. Additionally, documentation previously authorized by SNM that expired any time between March 13 and June 7 will remain valid for a period of 3 months. This does not apply to bank references and health certificates, which must be updated. Applicants whose document expired at any time outside of the window of March 13 to June 7 will need to update their migration status and will be subject to the applicable fines.
Per usual, tourists in Panama have 3 months to either leave the country or begin a new migratory process with SNM.
- SNM is now open and taking new applications and appointments. However, due to rules established by Panama’s Ministry of Health (MINSA), they will only be operating at 25% capacity.
- SNM’s office hours: 7:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Panama has once again rescheduled when commercial flights will start to fly into and out of Panama. The current date for resumption of flights is July 22nd. However, that start date does not guarantee that there will be flights to take starting July 22nd. According to Copa Airline’s website, they now state that “Our operations has been suspended until August 7th, 2020″.
There continue to be humanitarian flights in and out of Panama. For instance, the Government of Panama has approved inbound flights from the United States to Panama for Panamanian citizens and other qualified travelers. To discover the necessary qualifications and to get approval to take a flight from the USA into Panama, contact the Embassy of Panama located in Washington, D.C. For flights to Panama from other countries, contact the main Panama Embassy in that country. Airlines operating Panama-bound flights, such as Copa Airlines, may occasionally be able to offer some seats on the outbound flights. Please contact the airline directly about potential seats on those return flights.
If you are a foreigner needing to fly into or out of Panama, contact your country’s embassy or consulate to discover the necessary qualifications and any potential flights.
Below are 4 flights to the USA scheduled over the next couple of weeks. Contact the airline to book a flight. You may want to continue checking in with the airlines for any openings due to cancelations. Keep in mind that hotel options in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale may be limited.
- June 25 – Spirit Airlines. Leaves Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport at 1:00 p.m. to Fort Lauderdale at 5:00 p.m.
- July 1 – Copa Airlines. Leaves Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport at 3:00 a.m. to Miami at 7:15 a.m.
- July 2 – Spirit Airlines. Leaves Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport at 2:00 p.m. to Fort Lauderdale at 6:00 p.m.
- July 9 – Spirit Airlines. Leaves Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport at 2:00 p.m. to Fort Lauderdale at 6:00 p.m.
Panama Coronavirus-related Restrictions
As of June 1st, there is no more quarantine! No more 2-hour time slots every other day to shop.
Except for the Provinces of Panama and Panama Oeste (see below for details)
However, there is a curfew.
- You must stay in your home from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m, Monday thru Friday.
- Weekend curfew for the month of June is from 5:00 pm on Saturday until 5:00 am on Monday.
- Children are only allowed out of the house from 4 to 7 p.m. and must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or caretaker.
There are restrictions on your movements during the day:
- No beaches, rivers, or swimming pools
- No group social activities, cultural events, festivals or contact sports
- No leaving your province without a salvoconducto
- There will still be some sanitary circles in various places in Panama that will restrict your movement
Also, everyone must wear a mask and keep 2 meters apart when outside their home.
The government encourages you to stay in your home at all times unless you need to do something essential.
Opening to achieve a “new normalcy” will happen in 6 blocks.
- 1st block (May 13): e-commerce venues, mechanical workshops, artisanal fishing, and industrial aquaculture, and technical services (i.e., gardeners, plumbers, electricians, maintenance of air conditioners, elevators, and swimming pools).
- 2nd block (June 1): Public infrastructure construction, non-metallic mining, places of worship, parks, sports arenas, socializing venues (but only when at 25% of capacity and physical distances of 2 meters).
- 3rd block (no date set): Private construction activities, retail (commercial centers), wholesale trade, car sales, professional services (eg., barbershops, beauty salons & car washes), and administrative services.
- 4th Block (no date set): Air transport, hotels, and restaurants.
- 5th block (no date set): Education, recreational transportation (non-essential), sports leagues, and entertainment venues.
- 6th block (when there is a vaccine or treatment): All sectors of the economy open without restrictions, including concerts, fairs, carnivals, and discotheques.
Panamanian government officials have cautioned that in order to return to the “new normal”, the country’s companies will have to make adjustments, based on the protocol that the MINSA will soon deliver to them.
Depending on the type of work, there will be specific requirements. However, overall, businesses must ensure the use of personal protective equipment to prevent workers from catching the Covid-19, as well as implement strategies to care for their customers, such as social distancing, more intensive, and better cleaning of the facilities using alcohol gel, and other measures.
NOTE: A business is not supposed to open unless they have a government-approved health plan.
Quarantine – Panama and Panama Oeste Provinces ONLY
As of June 8th, per a MINSA resolution, the provinces of Panama and Panama Oeste are back under quarantine. Once again people in these provinces can only leave the house 3 days a week within the 2-hour slot allocated to them based on gender and ID number. The schedule is as follows:
- Women: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
- Men: Tuesday and Thursday. Saturday until 5 pm
Your 2-hour time slot is based on the last digit of your cedula number or if you are not a citizen, your passport number. Foreigners should always carry their passports, and their Panamanian cedula if they have one.
The intent of the 2-hour time slot is to allow people to make essential purchases, and only by one person per household.
The two-hour windows are as follows:
- Last number is 7: 6:30 – 8:30 am
- Last number is 8: 7:30 – 9:30 am
- Last number is 9: 8:30 – 10:30 am
- Last number is 0: 9:30 – 11:30 am
- Last number is 1: 12:30 – 2:30 pm
- Last number is 2: 1:30 – 3:30 pm
- Last number is 3: 2:30 – 4:30 pm
- Last number is 4: 3:30 – 5:30 pm
- Last number is 5: 4:30 – 6:30 pm
- Last number is 6: 5:30 – 7:30 pm
If you are over 60 years old, regardless of cedula or passport numbers, your time slot is 7:00 am to 10:00 am (gender restrictions still apply).
Normal exceptions apply for people who have salvoconductos (official permission to be out and about)
Parents may take one child per family outside near their home or in the social areas of their apartment building during the 2-hour time slot of the accompanying parent.
In order to minimize exposure, Panama has imposed sanitary circles (health cordons) to restrict movement into or out of areas that are experiencing elevated Covid19 rates. See the image at the top of this page for the primary sanitary circles, they are indicated by green dots. Be prepared for new sanitary circles to be announced, without much warning. For instance:
- On June 4th, MINSA announced that a sanitary circle has been declared in the district of Chiriqui Grande, and in the communities of Pantanal and Finca 1 in Changuinola, and Solución in Bocas del Toro.
- On June 11th, MINSA announced that a health cordon had been declared in the community of Iber-Gun, in the township of Cristobal, Colon Province.
To travel into or out of these circles you must have a salvoconducto or other type of document that gives you permission to do so.
- Effective June 22, the Government of Panama authorizes the distribution, sale, and consumption of alcohol across the nation, lifting previous purchasing limits. Alcohol must be sold in sealed containers and is intended for home consumption only. However, if you live within a sanitary circle, this new alcohol policy does not apply.
- As of June 2, anyone leaving their residence must be wearing a mask that covers their nose and mouth. Any individual not wearing a mask is subject to possible detention and fine.
- The Government of Panama extended the suspension of international commercial passenger flights to July 22. There are exceptions for cargo, humanitarian, medical supplies, medical evacuation, and government aircraft flights.
- Schools and universities are closed nation-wide until further notice.
- Effective June 8, Panama’s National Immigration Service started a 90-day period during which foreigners may submit applications to maintain or adjust their immigration status in Panama without incurring fines. This applies to applicants whose immigration status expired between March 13 and June 7. For more details see “Gov’t & Other Announcements” section above.
- MINSA called on everyone, especially those who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate blood. Contact a local hospital or blood donation center to donate.
- Panama immigration services are suspended until May 15th. All residency permits (temporary or permanent) expired since March 13, 2020 are valid until May 15, 2020.
- As of May 6th, hardware and auto parts stores, laundries, and agricultural cooperatives are considered essential businesses. You can make your orders to hardware stores only by phone or digitally. They also have restricted hours: Monday to Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon, and home deliveries will be at the same hours, but only on Monday and Thursday.
- Effective immediately, rental evictions and rent increases are suspended. Executive Decree No. 145, suspends eviction procedures of Ministerio de Vivienda y Ordenamiento Territorial (Miviot), or the Ministry of Housing and Land Management. This is effective for the duration of the state of national emergency and for two months after it is lifted. It covers contracts and leases for residential real estate, commercial establishments, professional, industrial, and educational activities. This does not mean that rental payments during the duration of national emergency and two month period afterward are not still owed. The payments are frozen, not forgiven. Also, no interest or late fees can be applied during this time period. Proprietors that suspend the supply of electricity, water, gas, and other services will be penalized according to Law 93 of 1973. If the tenant’s income has not been affected by the health crisis, he or she should honor the contract and if not, can also be sanctioned under the same Law 93. (effective as of May 2).
- After the National Emergency is over, a tenant who refuses to pay the landlord the rent he has failed to pay during that period will be sanctioned.
- The President announced a moratorium/suspension of payments for 7 months, until Dec. 31, 2020, for various loans & credit card payments. Specifically for 1) Residential mortgage loans, 2) Personal loans, 3) Credit card payments, 4) Auto loans, 4) Small and medium business loans, 6) Commercial loans, 7) Transportation sector loans, and 8) Agricultural sector loans.
- For qualified people who have been impacted by the state of emergency, Bill 295 temporarily suspends payments of public services such as electric power, land and mobile telephone, and the Internet for 4 months starting March 1, 2020. The payments are still owed and the amounts due for that period would be prorated to be paid over 3 years.
- Resolution 383 of April 3, 2020 – the Panama Social Security (Caja del Seguro) suspends fines, surcharges, and interest for late submission or late payment of worker’s monthly salaries for the months of February, March, April and May 2020.
- All Panamanians and residents with E-Cedula that had their contracts legally suspended with the Labor Office will have $80/mo automatically available on the barcode of their cedulas. (effective May 2, 2020)
- Until further notice, the US Postal Service will not accept mail bound for Panama due to service disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. These service disruptions affect Priority Mail Express International® (PMEI), Priority Mail International® (PMI), First-Class Mail International® (FCMI), First-Class Package International Service® (FCPIS®), International Priority Airmail® (IPA®), International Surface Air Lift® (ISAL®), and M-Bag® items. (effective as of April 3)
- Panama is part of a World Health Organization (WHO) study. The goal of the study is to discover the most effective treatment against the coronavirus. They will be testing the efficacy of four drugs in treating patients affected by the virus. According to the Minister of Health, Panama was chosen because of the transparent way in which it has handled the information related to the pandemic.
- Americans overseas, including American expats in Panama, are eligible for the coronavirus aid in the Coronavirus stimulus bill that the US Congress passed on March 27th. Check out this post for details.
- If you are doing due diligence or various official tasks, you can still access the public registry online. Public notaries are allowed to be open, but most closed. Some are open alternate day and some are available online. However, Immigration, the Tribunal Electoral, and the Ministry of Labor, and many other government offices are closed. Any pending applications in these offices will be put on hold.
- On an expired tourist visa, or driving past 90 days in the country? Relax. Immigration is not enforcing immigration rules. Normally, if you stay past your visa term, you would be on the hook for a $50/month fine. And in normal times, if you are caught, you could also be detained.
Coronavirus Assessment, Treatment & Testing
The MINSA call center uses a virtual assessment tool, R.O.S.A., to help combat the pandemic. R.O.S.A. stands for Automatic Health Operative Response. The call center works 24 hours a day to attend to people who present any symptoms of COVID-19. Their rapid response teams are also available to make 2 to 3 calls a day to travelers for epidemiological observation.
The Ministry of Health has launched a new Covid19 monitoring app called “Protégete”. This app should improve the direct monitoring of COVID-19 positive patients in the country and relieve pressure on the traditional reporting systems (169 telephone hotline / R.O.S.A. WhatsApp system).
The Vice-Minister of Health stated that mental health is an important component of the Panama Solidarity Plan. Those requiring consultations with psychologists and psychiatrists from the Ministry of Health and the CSS can access help via the 169 hotline, the R.O.S.A. system on Whatsapp or by calling 523-6813 of 523-6846 (Spanish only).
Contact R.O.S.A one of 2 ways.
- Call 169. This phone line will connect you to a call center that is manned by rapid response teams (consisting of a doctor, a nurse, a police officer). They will ask you a series of questions. Based on your answers they will decide on the next steps for you.
- +507 6997-1234. This WhatsApp number will ask you a few questions to determine if you need to speak with a doctor. If yes, the doctor will then determine if you need a rapid response team at home, an ambulance, or some other measure.
- If you have Whatsapp, you can also contact ROSA via this link. This allows you to text. Very helpful if you need to use Google Translate in order to communicate in Spanish.
Only call 911 if you are critically ill and in need of urgent care.
Don’t have the coronavirus, but want to talk with a doctor virtually, call the number below.
- Call 199
Coronavirus test kits have been distributed to public hospitals in all the main population centers throughout Panama. Additional test kits are on order. Some kits will be distributed to private hospitals as well. It typically takes 72 hours to get the result of your test.
When It Started In Panama
The first case of the Coronavirus in Panama was discovered on March 9, 2020. A Panamanian woman, who had flown back from Spain the day before, started feeling ill. She went to the hospital, was tested, and was immediately put under quarantine at home.
The next day, March 10th, the first death due to the Coronavirus in Panama occurred. The gentleman who died was a director of a high school in Panama City. He was 64 years old and a diabetic. He died from virus-associated pneumonia. In addition, 2 teachers from the same high school were hospitalized in intensive care.
4 Sources – Online Tally of Covid19 Cases
- For information on cases in Panama, check this Geosocial website. It updates once daily. It provides info by areas of Panama, the number of people hospitalized or at home, and data on the number of people tested.
- This site has a great graphic representation of the coronavirus information. You can search the site for information on other countries as well. Here is the epidemic-stats website link with Panama info.
- The Worldmeters website is a good resource for worldwide info on the pandemic. It also updates once a day.
- An early coronavirus website, gives up-to-the-minute worldwide, country and in the case of some counties like the US and Canada, by state or province tally of coronavirus cases. It also offers information about the virus, symptoms, and how to keep healthy as well (click “wiki” in menu for that info). The site was created by a junior in Seattle-area high school. Click for an interview with him.
Panama Gov’t Daily Update Source
Official government press conferences and presidential addresses are presented daily at 6:00 pm on local Panamanian news channels (TVN and Telemetro). Recordings can also be viewed online at https://www.tvn-2.com/pass/tvn/ (Spanish only).
World Health Organization (WHO) Info
For more information on the coronavirus, check out the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website.
WHO also has a Whatsapp group, click this link to join.
All information in this post comes from reliable news sources or directly from Panamanian government sources.
Your comments and input are appreciated.