Travellers arriving by aeroplane in Panama having stayed in South America for 15 days or more will have to follow the new anti-covid-19 protocols in force since Monday, health and immigration authorities announced.
In addition to submitting a negative PCR or COVID-19 antigen test carried out within the previous 48 hours at the airport of departure, passengers will have to undergo a molecular test upon arrival, which costs USD 85.
Those with a negative result shall nonetheless spend three days in isolation at their home or a “hospital hotel” for non-covid-19 travellers at the government's expense. Before Monday passengers in this category were required to stay five days under such conditions. On the third day, they will undergo an antigen swab test (also covered by the state) and, if negative, they are released from quarantine. Other presumably more luxurious hotels at the traveller's expense will become available as of May 3, authorities said.
On the other hand, passengers who test positive upon arrival will have to undergo a COVID-19 RT-PCR test for typing/analysis by + ICGES and comply with mandatory 14-day isolation in a hospital hotel for COVID-19 travellers, as provided for by health authorities.
Panama's international carrier Copa Airlines underlined connecting passengers going through Tocumen International airport shall not be required to follow these procedures, but will nonetheless have to comply with regulations in force at their final destination.
Meanwhile, some 2,700 people are stranded in the Colombian-bordering Panamanian province of Darien, the National Border Service (Senafront) reported.
The passage, food and health care are in charge of state entities such as the ministries of Health and Social Development (Mides) and the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and the Family (Senniaf), said, in statements to the press.
During Easter, there was massive income and up to two thousand people entered the border in two weeks, Senafront Director Oriel Ortega told the media. He also warned that many of these migrants are deceived by members of criminal organizations and risk their lives in the dangerous five-day journey through the Darien jungle.
Crossing the jungle with children is inhumane, said the Senafront commissioner, who compared the deception with that of other criminal groups that advise similar action to members of the migratory columns that leave for the United States from the so-called Northern Triangle (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador).
Ortega likened the present to that of July and August 2016, when up to five thousand migrants were concentrated in the Panamanian part of the binational dividing line, all intending to reach the US border through Central America.
Some 111,500 people are believed to have entered Panama through that border since 2014.