Winter has arrived in Panamá. It made its entry with thunderous greetings that rolled over the city, leaving a strong hint of ozone lingering in the air. The humidity is high, and heavy rain waters the plants. It’s the tropical flu season.
Personally, I had one bad night akin to flu last week. Out of nowhere, cough, headaches, dizziness visited at night. The thing came and went within 7 hours. Was it the dreaded Covid-19 virus? I doubt it.
I have rarely been outside in the last two months. I had no personal contact with anyone, except going to the Supermarket to get essentials. Even if it was, I am not concerned. All good on my end.
In the meantime, the restrictions the Panamanian government has imposed on all public life continue to be very restrictive. After two months, no relief seems to be in sight.
It’s still mandatory to wear masks in public. People are stuck at home, and at this time, no easing of restrictions is in sight. MINSA, the Panamanian State Health Department, is continually updating its impositions of measure to fight Covid-19. They went as far as fumigating the public with disinfectants. They soon realized, exposing humans directly to these agents can be harmful, and they stopped spraying people. I was never subjected to such measures and had I encountered it, I would have refused, regardless of the consequences.
The regular food truck that used to deliver fresh produce every day has stopped coming. Instead, another truck showed up last week with much fanfare, bull horning the neighborhood for nearly 40 minutes.
I didn’t quite understand what was announced over their PA system, but it sounded like government quarantine help. Yet upon closer inspection, the truck just carried bananas, and the few people who came to get some had to pay for it as far as I could tell. A far cry from the rich offerings the private truck used to deliver just a few weeks ago.
While the Covid-19 panic has taken center stage, Panamá is battling another virus that appears with every rain season like clockwork. It’s the Dengue virus. It’s transmitted by mosquitos, and it has arrived in Panamá City, where it is usually not occurring.
Dengue is more common in rural areas. But this year, 229 cases have been registered in the Panama City metropolitan area. Luckily, that’s only two more cases than were recorded in the previous week. MINSA is fighting the Dengue virus with intense fumigation of some residential and commercial areas.
As people are struggling to make their loan payments, President Laurentino Cortizo negotiated payment extensions to banks for seven months until December 2020. It’s a temporary relief for sure. Without restarting the economy, it may just be a stay of execution for Panamá’s businesses and livelihoods. With an already vulnerable economy in Panamá, the country is losing confidence. The President’s competence is being questioned in the press because cases of corruption within the system are uncovered. It’s not a stabilizing factor in an already tense situation.
It’s Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m sharp. The sun has set already. Suddenly, a balcony celebration erupted seemingly out of nowhere. For 15 minutes, banging of pots and pans, yelling, and cheering ensured. It stopped as abruptly as it started. I haven’t been able to determine what caused the balcony celebrations, I can only assume it may have been because MINSA stopped spraying people. I will show it in this week’s video blog.
Whatever the cause for the celebration may have been, it’s good to know there is still life in the city that is seemingly on permanent holiday. For me and many expats, the restrictions may be inconvenient, but I would suggest the impact on the working Panamanian is probably much higher and severe. Let’s hope that common sense and true science will prevail, so that this country and our LATAM neighbors can recover for the sake of its residents.
If you would like to know more about the situation in Panamá during this crisis or in general, make sure to comment, and I will do my best to respond quickly. Till next time.
by: LP Wirth