COVID in Panama

The world is fighting this pandemic, and various countries have various ideas of how best to manage it. I’ve written a number of posts about how things are going here in Panama because, what else is there to talk about? We stay right here in our small little world watching the plants grow and the birds fly around.

Panama has said from the start that their primary goal is keeping people alive and healthy, and they shut down everything for quite a while and kept everyone home. There was government help for those who lost jobs and income, of course never big or fast enough but they tried. As things stabilized they opened the economy back up little by little. Things continued to go fairly well until the November and December holidays. People traveled too much and had too many get togethers where the virus was spread around. By December case numbers were climbing to new heights. They shut things down again in the areas most affected, and reinstituted curfews and some restrictions throughout the country. Now that things appear to be stabilizing again, they are slowly opening things up again in the affected areas.

As I understand it, they look at transmission rate, death rate, and availability of space in the hospitals. When these numbers go above the limits they set, it’s likely that we’ll see more restrictions and limitations. They have been doing thousands of tests, and contact tracing teams are hard at work but the large numbers make that difficult, and a large amount of socializing can make contact tracing almost impossible. But, there is still hospital space, even with these high numbers, which is good news.

Panamá entre los países que más pruebas diagnósticas aplica a su población, según la OPS ( Nationally, 58% of the hospital beds are occupied, 76% full in ICUs, and 41% of the ventilators are in use.

I saw that they brought in some doctors from Cuba to ease the strain on the health care personnel. I thought this article was also interesting. Comunicado No. 326 | Ministerio de Salud de la República de Panamá ( MINSA (health department) has trained 150 mental health professionals to support the health care professionals working in the front lines, and to help them manage the stress and burnout of the job. If a worker is struggling they can contact one of these professionals in or outside work, or call the hotline set up for this purpose. MINSA has also published guidelines and recommendations for managing and alleviating stress.

A good friend here got COVID. Her husband and his cousin live next door to each other, two families who are like one, except in separate houses. Both husbands, after all these months of struggle, are finally back to work. All four adults got COVID. They are super conservative and careful, so I’m guessing that one of the guys must have brought the virus home from work. Interesting enough, and thankfully, all of the 3 kids tested negative. And, thankfully, everyone is recovered now, feeling well, and they should be off quarantine this coming week.

But, when they got sick. MINSA was at their house, testing and supporting. They were brought food, not enough for 14 days, but enough for a while so they wouldn’t have to go shopping, and they had time to make some arrangements. MINSA also brought them basic medications for pain, fever, cough, etc. so they wouldn’t go out to the pharmacy. Someone from MINSA has called them every day to see how they have been doing. A few days in the cousin was feeling worse, so he was sent to the hospital for oxygen and assessment. He was found to be OK enough that he didn’t need to stay, so he’s spending the rest of his quarantine in a hotel/hospital with his whole family. I was told they have a large, comfortable room with 2 double beds, good meals delivered to their room, and staff nearby to keep an eye on their health. And, it’s all free.

This is a picture my friends sent me of the food that was given to them when they got sick. This would make a few meals for a family of 3.

The vaccine is coming very soon, and it will be interesting to see how this goes. I wrote earlier about the four phases in the plan A New Year | The Panama Adventure

Bob Adams has also talked about the vaccine plans in a recent video. According to him, everyone will be eligible for a free vaccine. Everyone – citizens, residents, and tourists!

Needless to say, I am looking forward to this very much. Not only will I feel much safer, I’ll feel confident that I can travel safely and not bring back anything to my family in the US.

Speaking of the US, the news seems to go from bad to worse and then, worse and worse! The virus seems out of control everywhere, hospitals are overflowing, and personnel are stretched to the limits. A friend in Sarasota FL, where I lived before here, said their hospital is at 100.4% capacity. Her husband is over 65 and eligible for a vaccine at this time, but it’s been impossible to get an appointment. Now, they have run out of vaccine. I don’t know what this means for people who need a second dose. It seems like everywhere health departments are underfunded, understaffed, distribution and administration of vaccine is disorganized, and it’s just not working out. Daily counts of infections and deaths only climb and climb. We can’t wrap our heads around the big numbers, or think about how every single one of those numbers is a person who left a big hole in the lives of their families and friends.

And, is this ever going to end?? Sometimes it sees like we’re trapped in an endless nightmare of sickness, death, and stress, and I’m only talking about COVID here. I know one day we will look back on this crazy time! But, not for a while yet.

So, maybe rather than cry, we can laugh a little. I saw these here People Are Already Getting Disappointed In The Year 2021, And Here’s 50 Of The Funniest Jokes They Made | Bored Panda








About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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15 Responses to COVID in Panama

  1. Carole says:

    We are not as bad in the Virgin Islands about getting our shots. I made an apt and a week later got our first shot, our second Is due Feb 5, we just go down to get it then. We got the First one that came out, our arms were sore but that’s all. Our cases were low with the virus, except yesterday we had around 70 which is a lot for us. There is a lot of clinics , hospital and pharmacies on Island giving the shots, we our 69 and 70 so it was the second phase for us. No charge for the vaccine, which is good. I know a lot of people in the states that are older and still waiting on the vaccine, seems they are running out.


    • That’s wonderful! I’m so glad you are able to get your vaccines, and good news that your cases are low. It sounds like you all are well on your way to a more “normal” life.


  2. catfriend99 says:

    Are you familiar with Julie Nolke? If you want to laugh about the pandemic you should watch her series on explaining the pandemic to her past self.


  3. Hi! Thanks for the news about how Panama is handling COVID, all my family this today eased a bit my worries. Be safe


    • Thank you for the comment 🙂 I think we are doing as well as possible under the circumstances, and I hope your family is well and safe.
      Great blog! I’m looking forward to exploring your posts and recipes.
      Cuidate mucho. Bendiciones

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Leslie Trippy says:

    Australia and New Zealand seemed to get their Covid shi^ together pretty quickly….too bad so much of the rest of the world is having problems.


  5. mbartoes says:

    Thanks for a great post, Kris. I am glad to hear that you are doing well, and the post was really informative. My husband and I were there for a couple of weeks over Thanksgiving and into December. We were so impressed with how EVERYONE was doing their part to contain things, every little store, people wearing masks everywhere, it was so encouraging to see. May you continue to see continued improvement in your numbers, and may you stay healthy. Thanks again


    • I don’t want to speak too quickly but the spike in cases seems to be showing signs of turning around, so we’ll see how things go.
      I hope you enjoyed your time here in spite of these crazy times. Thanks for the comment, and I hope you are also well and safe.


  6. Pingback: Vaccinations in Panama | The Panama Adventure

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