Panama on Wednesday temporarily closed its border with Colombia to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The Foreign Ministry of Panama reported that it “temporarily suspends the entry into the national territory, by land, sea and river routes, of any person coming from the border with the Republic of Colombia as of May 20, 2021.”
The Panamanian decision comes after Colombia reopened its borders on Wednesday — except for those it shares with Venezuela — after they were closed for more than a year due to the pandemic.
The Colombian government opened borders with Panama, Peru, Ecuador and Brazil to “advance in the measures that help the economic reactivation” of the neighboring areas, despite the fact that the virus is still circulating strongly in the country.
Colombia’s decision has not pleased Panama, which fears that the border opening could cause the spread of the virus at a time when the country is registering its best statistics of infections and deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
Panama expressed its “concern” that Colombia’s decision “puts at risk the significant progress made by all Panamanians to control the pandemic,” the statement from the Panamanian Foreign Ministry said.
In addition, at this time the opening of borders also poses a risk to “border security and the control of migratory flows,” the note added.
Panama did not announce any changes to its border with Costa Rica, a country which is currently experiencing its most dire moments of the pandemic.
The inhospitable Darien jungle, on the border with Colombia, has in recent years become a corridor for irregular migration that, from South America, tries to cross Central America to the United States.