December closed with 80,984 infections and 943 deaths from the Covid-19 disease, exceeding the figures reached in July, considered the worst month of the pandemic.
The epidemiology reports from the Ministry of Health (Minsa) establish that 32.8% of the total cases registered in the nine months of the pandemic (246,790) occurred in December.
Meanwhile, 23.4% of all deaths that occurred from this cause between March and December (4,022) were registered in the last month of the year.
The number of infections in December represents an increase of 155.7% compared to those reported in July 2020, when 31,706 infections were registered, and 19.37% more deaths than in July, when the Minsa counted 790.
Panama faces high community transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus , and it has been an increase in cases for eight consecutive weeks.
As a result of this situation, the authorities adopted restrictive measures on mobility by gender, curfew and quarantine in the provinces of Panama and Panama Oeste, from January 4 to 14.
The pandemic accelerated and set a record in December
The first case of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus
in Panama was reported on March 9, 2019, and until December 31, 246,790 people acquired the Covid
-19 disease and 4,022 lost their lives in the country.
The epidemiology reports of the Ministry of Health (Minsa
) allow us to establish that December was, of the nine months of the pandemic that go, the most difficult, since the numbers are overwhelming compared to previous dates.
Last month closed with 80,984 new infections of the disease and 943 people died. The number of cases represents an increase of 155.7% compared to those reported in July 2020, when the country was in full swing and 31,706 infections were registered.
The statistics also show an increase of 151.44% compared to the month of November, when 32,208 people were infected.
At the beginning of December, the average number of cases reported in that epidemiological week was 659, and at the end of the year the average rose to 3,302 daily cases in the country. Deaths also grew, as December closed with an average of 44 deaths in the last seven days, more than double the 16 averaged at the beginning of November.
The increase in cases implied an increase in hospitalizations. Hospital centers were hosting 2,279 people with Covid
-19 by the end of the year, of which 1,922 were in the ward and 188 were in intensive care units (ICU). At the beginning of December, the authorities reported that there were 1,0207 people in the hospitals for this cause: 958 were in the ward and 154 were in the ICU.
The pandemic has been in phase four for several weeks, that is, the most advanced due to the high community transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus
, according to data from the World Health Organization.
In fact, on its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States published a note in which they recommend avoiding all types of trips to Panama and 180 other countries in the world, due to the high risk of contagion.
Arturo Rebollón, epidemiologist and public health specialist, maintains that the mobility restriction, curfew and quarantine measures should have been adopted four weeks ago. It even affirms that the microcluster strategy should have started to be applied in sectors with a high number of infections.
The microclusters plan was applied in the neighborhoods of New York, in the United States, where they managed to lower their positivity in the tests to 4%, when this city had one of the worst scenarios in the world.
Rebollón states that the more cases increase hospitalizations and, with them, the deaths of people, and estimates that by the end of January the deaths per day could reach 100.
Between March and December, Panama registered a national rate of death from Covid
-19 of 84.7% per 100,000 inhabitants.
This was explained by Leonardo Labrador, National Head of Epidemiology of the Minsa
, who explained that the regions with a higher rate than the national one are: San Miguelito (150.4), Metropolitana (132.0), Guna Yala (120.4), East Panama (107.4), Darien (104.5) and Panama West (94.3)
Mortality in Panama is above the mortality rate for the American region, which is 81.2 per 100,000 inhabitants, and ranks first with the highest mortality rate among Central American countries, according to data from the Pan American Organization of Health .
The 943 deaths registered in December represent 153 more than the 790 that occurred last July, which was the second worst month of the pandemic in the country.
Faced with this vertiginous increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, the Minsa
adopted from January 4 to 14 a mobility restriction by gender, curfew and quarantine in the provinces of Panama and West Panama.
Both provinces concentrate the highest number of registered cases in the entire pandemic. In Panama, 122,069 infections have been reported, and in Panama West, 48,109.
Javier Nieto, infectologist and former member of the Minsa Covid
-19 Advisory Committee, recalled that from the beginning of the pandemic the strategy of “tightening and loosening” was proposed. As long as care in hospital and intensive rooms could be ensured, the integrity of the health personnel preserved and traceability possible, it could be “loosen” through the staggered opening of activities, he said.
He added that a study published in the journal Nature showed that in Europe, as of May 2020, three million deaths had been prevented in 11 countries.
Similarly, another study pointed out that confinement in China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France and the United States prevented or delayed 62 million additional infections due to SARS-CoV-2, that is, non-pharmacological measures are effective, he detailed.