According to The Latin American Tribune, the Panamanian government on Wednesday (October 22) announced that it has banned the arrival of travelers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to prevent the Ebola virus from being brought into the country.
“The Health Ministry announces that starting today a restriction on entering the country will enter into force for passengers coming from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, or who on their travel agenda can be verified to have visited the mentioned countries within the past 21 days,” the official communiqué said.
Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are the West African nations that have been most affected by the Ebola epidemic, which has infected more than 9,900 people, almost all of them in West Africa, and killed almost 4,900, according to figures released on Wednesday by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The measure “was discussed with representatives of the airlines that provide services at the Tocumen International Airport,” which services the Panamanian capital, “and health care professionals” in the Central American nation.
The travel ban “will be maintained until the mentioned nations are declared free of the Ebola virus,” adds the communiqué.
COMMENT: Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela told reporters that the measure “is a way of containing the virus and preventing the transit” of it into the Central American country.
“It’s a way of protecting the logistical system, above all the airport ... our citizens...and the citizens of the world,” the president added.
Between January and July 2014, some 4.9 million passengers passed through Tocumen International Airport, most of them coming from Colombia; Costa Rica; Venezuela; Cuba; and México.
Panamá, which has not registered a single case of Ebola, on October 14 issued a precautionary health alert and approved the allocation of $10 million to purchase equipment and outfit hospitals with an eye toward processing Ebola patients, should enter the country.