Central American countries step up efforts to contain coronavirus

A worker sprays sanitizer at the Salvadoran Institute of Comprehensive Rehabilitation (ISRI) as El Salvador’s government has taken steadily stricter measures to prevent a possible spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in San Salvador, El Salvador March 14, 2020. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

TEGUCIGALPA/PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – Central American countries Panama, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador on Saturday took further steps to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus in the region with measures ranging from bans on large gatherings to travel restrictions.

Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador all banned public gatherings to avoid the coronavirus spreading as quickly as it has in countries in Asia and Europe. Panama had banned large gatherings earlier.

Meanwhile, authorities in Panama said flights arriving from Europe and Asia would be temporarily suspended, with the exception of flights that transport doctors, medical equipment or other humanitarian aid.

So far, 153,864 people have been infected by the coronavirus across the world and 5,800 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Reporting by Gustavo Palencia in Honduras, Elida Moreno in Panama, Nelson Renteria in El Salvador and Sofia Menchu in Guatemala; Editing by Stefanie Eschenbacher, Alistair Bell and Daniel Wallis

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