The president of Guatemala declares a state of calamity due to coronavirus

The president of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei, declared on Thursday night in a council of ministers state of public calamity at the national level by the alert of the coronavirus COVID-19, although he ruled out that there are any cases in the country at the moment.

The Guatemalan president said in a press conference that the measure was extreme to "expand the actions against the coronavirus", although a few hours earlier, in the afternoon of Thursday, Congress approved a resolution point in which he asked Giammattei to declare the state of calamity

"Being 7 at night with 30 minutes (from local time, 01.30 GMT on Friday) there is not a single case today. Hopefully we can remain undefeated for many weeks, so we can have a quiet Holy Week" , Giammattei added.

"In the Central American region there has not been a single case, but that does not mean that there will not be," he said and explained that the decree will enter into force as of Friday immediately, although he said that Congress will meet until next "Monday or Tuesday of next week", to approve it.

Giammattei commented that he performed "a preliminary preliminary test that was negative" by coronavirus to a person suspected of carrying the so-called Wuhan pneumonia, in China, and added that "the second test is being done, so it is very likely that it will come out also negative. "

The president indicated that he issued instructions to the General Directorate of Civil Intelligence (Digici) to "check who publishes false news so that a criminal proceeding can be initiated against him."

He stressed that his administration is "preventing and not reacting", so that "if the disease comes to Guatemala, we act as quickly as possible and get out of the emergency as quickly as possible."

The chief executive, doctor and surgeon by profession of 63 years, said that, unlike other states of calamity "in which there has been perception in people that there are unnecessary purchases, we want to do things completely different."

He clarified that, in case the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance "considers that it needs equipment for personnel or medicines for contaminated people, the purchase will be announced so that the media know what is going to be purchased and compared market prices. "

The president took the opportunity to urge Congress to "urgently, with national urgency, approve the World Bank loan called CAT TD 0, up to an amount of 200 million dollars that is only used in cases of public calamity."

Giammattei demanded that the population not hoard masks because "there is no need to panic" and "the mask must be used only by those who have symptoms."

Guatemala has taken measures since Sunday, when cases of coronavirus proliferated in Mexico and Ecuador, and the Ministry of Health raised the institutional alert from green to yellow.

The health portfolio reinforced the passenger review protocols that arrive at La Aurora International Airport, with a thermostatic camera and digital thermometers and requests for information to keep track of potential infected.


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