Panama’s Struggle With the Coronavirus Quickly Escalates

Lead Photo: Detail of Kuna woman wearing traditional dress. Panama. Getty Images
Detail of Kuna woman wearing traditional dress. Panama. Getty Images
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On March 10, Panama reportedly became the second country in Latin America to confirm a coronavirus-related death. In the months following, the Central American country skewed below the average and took on a rather strict, gendered approach to social distancing measures. Amidst a reopening, Panama is now reportedly the Latin American country with most new COVID-19 cases per number of residents.

Although El Salvador is the smallest country in Latin America, Panama is the second-least populated, following Belize. The Hub of the Americas has less than 4 million folks who call the isthmus home.

As of July 7, Panama has over 40,000 confirmed cases and over 800 reported deaths, according to Council of the Americas.  Although Brazil, Chile and Mexico have a greater number of cases, they also have much larger populations. This Wednesday alone, Panama reported 960 new cases of coronavirus, according to BBC Mundo. Similarly to the United States, cases quickly spiked as the attempt to reopen began. The isthmus is in dire need of a plan.

On Thursday, the Central American country reportedly got a $400 million loan to help confront the pandemic.

The small but mighty country is testing at high rates but does not currently have the health resources to tackle the escalating numbers. Thus far, 5% of the cases have reportedly led to hospitalization. “That 5%,” said Panamanian epidemiologist and academic Arturo Rebollón to BBC, “has been enough to overflow the health system.”