Guatemala declares itself on "maximum alert" to the possible arrival of the coronavirus

The president of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei, declared on Tuesday a "maximum alert" to the possible arrival of the coronavirus in his territory and also said that the country's health authorities have the ability to detect the disease in two hours.

Giammattei, a retired doctor and surgeon, explained in a press conference convened on Tuesday that the country "is taking the necessary measures" in the face of a virus that is "likely" to "arrive at any time" in Guatemala.

The 63-year-old president also said that health authorities have prepared isolation protocols for potential patients, with an infrastructure specially designated for people who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus or who are suspected of suffering from it.

He also explained that medicinal supplies are fully available at local hospitals in case there is an emergency in this regard.

Giammattei also confirmed that there is no person infected at the moment, although he explained that there is a family that is "quarantined" after returning to Guatemala from South Korea, where the coronavirus was spread with more than a thousand infected to the latest official reports.

"Better safe than sorry," said Giammattei.

According to the ruler, the "maximum alert" is a prelude to any subsequent measures such as a "state of emergency" or stronger decisions in case the coronavirus arrives in Guatemala.

"We are preparing for the coming, which seems inevitable. There are four continents where the virus is already," said the Guatemalan president, invested on January 14 for a period of four years.

"We should not be scared, but we must be concerned about the health of the population of Guatemala," said the president, who confirmed that there is a "communication" between the ministries of Health of the countries of Central America about the possible arrival of the coronavirus.

According to Giammattei, who was accompanied by health and transportation authorities, the revisions at ports and airports have been reinforced to detect with any examinations any possible traveler who may have been infected with the coronavirus.

Questioned regarding the blind points of entry to Guatemala, both on its border with Mexico and with El Salvador and Honduras, Giammattei said that "we are prepared" as "we are also on issues such as smuggling," although he admitted that "we have a very permeable border. "

COVID-19, a disease caused by the Wuhan coronavirus (province of China), now affects five regions (America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Southeast Asia), but not Africa.

The latest official figures suggest that there are 53 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the United States, of which 36 correspond to passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was anchored in Japan and were repatriated last week.

Meanwhile, China, the epicenter of the disease, already accounts for more than 77,000 cases and more than 2,600 deaths, while the number of infections and deaths continues to grow in other countries such as South Korea, Iran and Italy.

The symptoms of the new epidemic are in many cases similar to those of a cold, but may be accompanied by fever and fatigue, dry cough and dyspnea (shortness of breath).


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