The US has urged people to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, superseding the advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on 15th March, which asked Americans to cancel or postpone gatherings of 50 people or more over the next 8 weeks.
On 20th March, California ordered its 40 million residents to stay at home, as modeling showed without action more than half of them would contract the virus in 2 months, requiring nearly 20,000 more hospital beds than the state could provide.
On 15th March, New York City closed nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses, and concert venues. Restaurants can continue to operate, but from 17th March, they could do take-out business only. As cases continued to rise, New York mandated the closing of all non-essential businesses in the state by Sunday 22nd March.
Nearly 1 in 4 Americans have been ordered to stay at home at this point. On 24th March, the WHO warned that the US might become the center of the outbreak as cases continued to climb. Anyone who has left New York has been advised to self-isolate for 2 weeks.
Canada became the 1st country to boycott the Tokyo Olympics on 23rd March. The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee called on the International Olympic Committee to postpone the event due to take place this summer, saying the global health crisis was “more significant than sport”.
On 16th March, the country closed its borders to anyone who was not a citizen or permanent resident.
Nations in South and Central America have also increased measures to contain the infection. Panama has banned the entry of non-resident foreigners and Honduras closed its borders to passenger traffic for a week.
The World Economic Forum’s Head of Business Engagement, Latin America, Silvio Dulinsky, said as reported cases leaped from 100 in just over a week across the region, it was stepping up action.
“Currently more than 10 countries already have closed their borders allowing only nationals and residents to enter (and stay in quarantine).”
But he added that experts were raising questions on the effectiveness of the measures as the virus is already spreading among the population in the countries.
“At this stage, the only effective measure is to minimize social contact among residents.”
Trade was not affected by the border closures, to avoid further disruption to the countries’ economies, and some governments were exploring ways to collaborate, which Dulinsky said was good news.
“In a region that can benefit so much from further integration, this might be an unexpected positive side-benefit of this terrible tragedy.”
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