Guatemala put into effect on Wednesday a ministerial agreement that organizes the country’s lack of confinement in four phases and that will function as its “national strategy” before COVID-19.

The ministerial agreement 146-2020, established by the Guatemalan Government’s Health portfolio, comes 80 days after the first case of coronavirus was detected in the country and one week after the creation of the National Commission Against COVID-19.

The main objective of the regulation is “to regulate the national strategy” for “the population actions that must be taken” in search of “the de-escalation of the containment measures”.

Guatemala has counted until the last update, on Tuesday, a total of 5,586 cases of the coronavirus, including 123 deaths from the disease.

The National Commission Against COVID-19 was created in the last week of May and is chaired by Dr. Edwin Asturias, who left his job as professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the University of Colorado (United States) to take office and had great influence in the creation of the “national strategy”.

Four phases

The de-escalation established by the Government of the Guatemalan President, Alejandro Giammattei, indicates four different phases and each one lasts at least 14 days before being able to advance.

“Phase 0”, which Guatemala has not yet reached, is equivalent to “preparation for de-escalation” and mainly establishes “the relaxation of confinement measures” for the “relief of citizens”.

The “Phase I” orders the “start of the de-escalation” and allows “the partial opening of economic and commercial activities” in addition to “professional sports activities and tourist accommodation without common areas”.

According to the regulations, “Phase II” will be an “intermediate opening” that will enable work centers that were not working in “Phase I”.

Finally, “Phase III” will culminate the stages with an “opening to the new normal” with “all the economic activities and work centers” available.

The variables that will define the change of stage in a minimum period of 14 days are “the decrease” in new cases, suspected cases, percentage of positive cases by number of tests and the saturation of hospitals.

Reopening with pause

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei had decreed a general quarantine on March 15 and a curfew since March 22, when there were 18 cases and one deceased, but on May 3 he decided to gradually reopen activities.

The reopening, however, was interrupted on May 14 when the conservative Giammattei, a doctor by profession, ordered the population to confine themselves for 21 hours a day on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays due to the increase in cases.

Currently, Guatemala is under curfew from 6:00 in the afternoon to 5:00 in the morning, seven days a week, without public transport but with many trips according to municipal sources.

The director of the National Commission Against COVID-19, Edwin Asturias, warned on Monday that the country is at a “critical moment” in the fight against the disease due to the increase in cases in recent weeks.