Guatemala has registered its first fatality from coronavirus, the government said on March 15, while Panama announced an aggressive set of measures to contain the spread of the virus, including banning entry by non-resident foreigners.
Guatemalan Health Minister Hugo Monroy told a news conference the dead man was a 85-year-old who had recently returned from Madrid without showing signs of illness.
Only on March 14 did the man present symptoms of infection and doctors confirmed he had the virus early on March 15, Monroy added. He later died in a private hospital and was one of the first coronavirus fatalities since it reached Central America.
Panama, which has been the hardest hit in Central America, reported its first coronavirus death earlier this week. Panama's health minister Rosario Turner said the number of confirmed cases in the isthmus nation rose to 55 from 43 on Saturday.
From 11:59pm today, only Panamanians and foreign residents would be allowed to enter Panama, security minister Juan Pino said alongside Turner at a news conference.
Panama has ordered communal areas in hotels, discos, bars, and casinos and elsewhere closed, Turner said.
The government has also ordered shops in the country to be shut except supermarkets, pharmacies and medical centers. In addition, Panama has suspended elective surgical procedures and limited hospital visits by outpatients, Turner said.
In contrast to Mexico, some Central American countries have imposed extensive restrictions on their populations in a bid to get on top of the threat posed by the virus.
On March 15, Honduran police moved people off beaches and out of shops and cafes to enforce an order issued by the government on March 14 to prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people.
President Juan Orlando Hernandez said in a televised address that Honduras had detected three new cases of coronavirus, including a baby. Honduras had previously logged three cases.
Costa Rica's government has ordered the closure of all bars and discos as the tally of coronavirus infections in the country rose to 35, the health ministry said on March 15.