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Emergency Tracking: COVID19 Pandemic Migrant Receiving Stations (MRS) Situation Report #15, 3-9 July 2020, Panama

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Since 12 March 2020, Panama has been under a state of emergency, with closed borders, as a result of the measures imposed to contain the virus. Due to the closing of the Costa Rican borders on 16 March, Operation Controlled Flow has been severely affected. Currently, there are 2,518 migrants stranded in the national territory, distributed as follows: in the migrant stations of the province of Darién there are 1,582 in MRS La Peñita, 102 in Bajo Chiquito, and 184 in MRS Lajas Blancas. Furthermore, there are 650 migrants in the province of Chiriquí at MRS Los Planes. Borders continue to be closed until 23 July.

The number of migrants at MRS Los Planes has changed, due to recent evasions. The whereabouts of this group of 19 people is unknown. The National Migration System (NMS) has reported that this group will be transferred to one of the MRS in Darién, and the isolation protocol will be applied based on parameters established by the Ministry of Health (MINSA by its Spanish acronym).

As of July 9, Panama has 42,216 confirmed cases, of which 20,437 are active cases; and a total death count of 839. In terms of border provinces, Darién reports a total of 1,086 cases, and Chiriquí a total of 1,961 positive cases.

As for COVID-19 at the MRS in Darién, since the beginning of community transmission, 5 positive cases have been recorded in MRS Lajas Blancas and there is no updated data on MRS La Peñita. At the time of writing this report, 5 positive COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, 41 recovered and 136 possible contacts in MRS Lajas Blancas. The UNHCR trained Red Cross volunteers began setting up tents at the new MRS in San Vicente.

In MRS Los Planes de Gualaca in Chiriquí, the health situation has not changed. Two people continue to require specialized health care, one with a stomach abscess, and the other with a toothache due to a broken tooth (requiring maxillofacial surgery). Both declare that they do not have the financial resources to access medical services. The adults and the child with leishmaniasis continue under medical treatment, and a minor continues to be hospitalized due to symptoms requiring special care due to a severe gland infection. The NMS is in charge of transferring the minor’s parents to take care of him in the hospital.

A total of 292 COVID-19 tests have been carried out, all of which were negative. The request for a special visa that would allow migrants to remain in Panama while borders remain closed is still on hold. Official birth certificates of five children born in the province of Chiriquí have been issued. On Tuesday, July 7th, a family day was held at MRS Los Planes, where several sports, cultural, recreational and integration activities were held for the migrant population.

International Organization for Migration
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