Coronavirus in Boquete, Panama
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Apr 06, 2020 Update
We Asked: What is currently happening with regard to the Coronavirus outbreak in your area? Please provide as much detail as possible. He replied...
I live in Boquete Panama. There are no confirmed cases here (4/5) but there are 1800 nationally, principally in and around Panama City. Fatalities are 40. The airports are shut down so you can't leave or arrive except via U.S. military transport (on your dime, flying to a military base, not your home territory).
Nationally, we are on house quarantine except six hours a week for grocery and pharmacy trips. Women can be out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Men can be out on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
How People are Coping
We Asked: How are people handling the situation in your area? He replied...
Expats in my church have networked from home using Skype, ZOOM, email and our website to continue with our ministries.
Citizens overall are serious but not panicked. People here are generally very cooperative. There are no major shortages in the stores, which have placed items like disinfectant wipes, bottled water, latex gloves and toilet paper front and center when you enter.
Changing Conditions as coronavirus Spreads
We Asked: How has the situation changed as the Coronavirus has spread? He replied...
75% of the national population (around 4 million) are in or near Panama City. I can't speak for what is happening there but the people in and around Boquete seem to be making the best of a bad situation.
We Asked: Describe how the government of the country about which you are reporting is handling this situation. He replied...
I'm sure there will be those who think the government has overreacted in shutting down practically all business and transportation but, for now, the measures appear to be helping. I'm monitoring the numbers daily.
I do feel sad for the many restaurants that are shut down and may not reopen from this. Most retail businesses are shuttered but they will still have inventory when the shutdown lifts.
Government Response with Regard to Expats
We Asked: Describe how your home country's government has handled the outbreak situation with regards to its expatriate citizens. He replied...
Trey are translating daily government reports into English and posting them on the embassy website. As noted earlier, they are offering very limited military flights back to the U.S. for people who want them but expect to endure several inconveniences if people choose this option. These won't be pleasure trips.
Supplies and Shortages
We Asked: Is there a shortage of supplies in your location? He replied...
None that I know of but I'm shut in most of the time and don't get out much.
Preparing for the Future
We Asked: What are you doing in terms of preparations in case the situation deteriorates in your location? He replied...
I am aware that the supply lines may be disrupted so I try to have at least two weeks' supply at home. There are also some long-term emergency supplies I have access to if needed. I won't starve to death.
Lockdown & Passing the Time
We Asked: Are you staying home? If so, how are you passing the time?
Yes, as discussed early, I am limited to six hours a week off of the property. I am staying occupied with internet projects and entertainment from YouTube. I'm also participating in remote Bible study groups both locally and with friends back in the U.S.
Public Healthcare & Public Hospitals
We Asked: Are you enrolled in the public healthcare system where you live? Do you feel that the public hospitals are handling or preparing for the Coronavirus outbreak effectively? He replied...
My strategy is to stay as far away from doctors and hospitals as possible so I cannot answer this. No, I am not enrolled in a health care plan currently.
Private Health Insurance & Private Hospitals
We Asked: Do you have private health insurance? If you have private insurance, does this give you access to private hospitals? Are private hospitals or clinics better prepared, less prepared, or the same? Please explain. He replied...
Hospital of Choice for Coronavirus Treatment
We Asked: Would you choose a public or private hospital if you needed treatment for Coronavirus? Why? If there is a specific hospital that you would go to in the event of severe illness? Which hospital and why? He replied...
I would choose to self-quarantine unless my situation became dire. There are no hospitals in Boquete. I would need someone to take me 45 minutes south to David if I needed hospitalization.
We Asked: Are you considering returning to your home country due to the Coronavirus? Would this be a temporary move or a permanent repatriation? Please explain. He replied...
No. I see God's wisdom in bringing me here when He did. I'm not making any plans to leave. I now have dual citizenship.
Advice for People Outside of Boquete, Panama
We Asked: If you live in an area already heavily affected by coronavirus, what advice would you share with others elswhere in the world who may be facing the same challenges in the future. He replied...
There are no illnesses locally at present so I can't add to what others may say who are closer to the action.
How Government is Treating Expats
We Asked: How is the government of the country where you are currently living treating expats during this time? Have there been any changes or extensions made in terms of residency and and other visa renewals, applications and requirements? Has access to public healthcare been eased? Please describe any types of changes (positive and negative) that are taking place. He replied...
I understand there are extensions being given for some government deadlines such as drivers license renewals. Panama maintains a police presence even in good times and they have always treated me professionally.
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