KEY POINTS

  • Panamanian officials had to detain at least 2,000 people last week for violating the lockdown guidelines
  • The strict new measures are aimed at limiting the number of people leaving their homes while the government battles further spread
  • Only women will be allowed to leave their homes to buy necessities during Monday, Wednesday, and Tuesday, while the remaining days were assigned for the men for running errands
  • It has been made mandatory for everyone to stay home on Sunday

Panama is making sure that unsolicited overcrowding on the streets during national lockdown doesn’t defeat its sole purpose, to stem the spread of the coronavirus. In a rather unorthodox development, the Central American country has assigned separate days for men and women in case they are in dire need to venture out such as for buying necessities or running errands.

Only women will be allowed to leave their homes to buy necessities during Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, whilst men will be allowed to step outside to run errands on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday as part of their Ministry of Health’s directive, effective from April 1. President Laurentino Cortizo announced on Twitter on Wednesday that everyone will have to stay home on Sunday and that the restrictions would be in place for at least 15 days.

A previous vain attempt at trying to keep people inside except for emergencies triggered the enforcement of the said measures. At least 2,000 people were detained last week for flouting the orders, AFP reported, citing Panamanian Security Minister Juan Pino.

The officials divided the week based on their gender to further limit the number of people leaving their homes in the trying time. The men and women were only allowed two hours outside on those days.

“The great quantity of people circulating outside their homes, despite the obligatory national quarantine, has led the national government to take more severe measures,” the government said in a statement.

The quarantine regulations were not based on gender until now. "This absolute quarantine is for nothing more than to save your life," Pino said in a press conference.

The country has reported as many as 1,317 positive cases as of Thursday with 32 total deaths. It has already taken stringent measures to rein in the spread of COVID-19, including shutting down airports, banning domestic and international travel, and even banning the Panamanian citizens to enter the country.

Previously, the government had imposed night curfew between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. but with the new measures, the curfew will start from 5 p.m. every day.

Panama Canal Expansion View of the Miraflores Locks in the Panama Canal near to Panama City, June 22, 2016. Photo: RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images