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Guatemala rules out new Covid-19 closures in effort to protect economy

October 9, 2020

Guatemala on Thursday ruled out applying new closures to contain the coronavirus pandemic given the impact previous ones have had on the economy, said Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, a day after announcing the start of the second wave of infections.

Giammattei said in a televised message that the local economy is not capable of facing new closures such as those applied from March to early October, with limitations on mobility between provinces and curfews, among other restrictions.

“Our economy would not endure a second shutdown. We cannot and should not close the country. (…) Step by step, the economy is reactivated and many are focusing on entrepreneurship, creating jobs, getting ahead,” said Giammattei, a 64-year-old doctor.

On Wednesday, the president announced that the Central American country was experiencing a second cycle of coronavirus infections and accused the increase on people “who have relaxed their sanitary measures.”

The Ministry of Health recorded 834 new cases and 25 deaths from the new disease on Wednesday, a considerable increase in the daily reports compared to last week.

Until Thursday, Guatemala, with about 17 million inhabitants, sums 96,480 COVID-19 infections with 3,347 deaths, a fatality rate of 3.5%.

“Although the circumstance is difficult, our choice is economic recovery,” said Giammattei, himself recently recovered from Covid-19.

Guatemala began the gradual reactivation of economic activities at the end of June. Since the beginning of October, measures are more flexible after the end of the state of emergency.

On September 18, Guatemala reopened the borders, and from October 1 the curfew ended. It had been applied mainly from night to dawn, although sometimes it was applied 24 hours a day.

The management of the pandemic by Giammattei has been criticized after reports of shortages in hospitals and lack of payment to health personnel who attend the crisis, among other complaints.

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