Panama- Emergency Tracking: Migratory Receiving Stations and COVID-19 Pandemic (22-28 May 2020)
Since 12 March 2020, Panama has been under a state of emergency, with closed borders, as a result of the measures imposed to contain the virus. Due to the closing of the Costa Rican borders on 16 March, Operation Controlled Flow has been severely affected. Currently, there are 2,526 migrants stranded in the national territory, distributed as follows: in the migrant stations of the province of Darién there are 1,674 in MRS La Peñita, 124 in Bajo Chiquito, and 187 in MRS Lajas Blancas, and 541 migrants in the province of Chiriquí at MRS Los Planes. Borders continue to be closed until 22 June according to provisions from the Government of Panama.
As of May 28, Panama has 12,131 confirmed cases and a total of 320 deaths. In terms of border provinces, Darién reports a total of 203 cases and Chiriquí a total of 321 positive. The Government of Panama continues with the plan for the gradual reopening of the country through 6 blocks. The second block will begin on Monday, 1 June, with the reopening of infrastructure construction, non-metallic mining, places of worship, parks, sports and social areas with a maximum holding capacity of 25%, as well as allowing sports activities that do not involve physical contact. Start dates for subsequent phases have yet to be announced. From that date on, mobility by gender and time will change to a general curfew which will take effect from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Sanitary fences and epidemic areas will be maintained, as well as the mandatory use of masks, hand sanitizer and frequent hand washing.
Since the beginning of community transmission of COVID-19 in Darién at MRS La Peñita, no serious cases have been reported; patients with moderate virus disease have been managed under a stay-at-hotel/hospital protocol in Panama City. At the time of writing this report, 18 positive COVID-19 cases have been reported (6 currently in Panama City for being moderate cases), 67 recovered cases, and 102 remain at MRS Lajas Blancas because of possible contacts. Land preparation has started at Nicanor to setup a MRS.
After past demonstrations by stranded migrants, the atmosphere at the MRS in Darién remains stable. The National Border Service (SENAFRONT by its Spanish acronym) has encouraged dialogue and promoted recreational activities for the adult population, such as a soccer championship: The Migrant Cup. At MRS Los Planes de Gualaca in Chiriquí, the health situation has not changed much, and monitoring is maintained for people with conditions that warrant constant medical observation. Trips to withdraw money have been resumed. So far, zero cases of COVID-19 have been reported at MRS Los Planes.
- IOM Sitrep