A Panamanian health worker checks the temperature of a man attending the annual Tribal Gathering on Playa Chiquita, Panama, Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Foreigners attending the festival are required to stay in Panama for 15 days before returning home, which has stranded some of them on this isolated Caribbean beach while the country’s health ministry tries to stop the spread of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
PLAYA CHIQUITA, Panama (AP) — Between 400 and 500 foreigners are stranded in Panama after a “tribal” festival and music event ended with many of them being quarantined at the concert site near the Caribbean beach of Playa Chiquita, an organizer said Wednesday.
At the same time, Panama’s government announced that the number of coronavirus cases in the country had risen to 109 and that a nighttime curfew would be imposed beginning Wednesday night.
James Baker of Manchester, England, said those attending the Tribal Gathering included people from Spain, Canada, the United States, Denmark, France, Britain and Hungary as well as Costa Rica, Colombia, Chile and Mexico.
Baker said authorities in Panama had instituted a requirement that all those seeking to leave had to prove they had been in Panama for at least 14 days. Most of the estimated 2,300 attendees at the event, which ran Feb. 29-March 15, have been able to leave.
But Baker said many of the remaining festival goers and staff might need help getting back to their home countries due to flight and transport cancellations related to the coronavirus outbreak.
Baker said the group had tents, medial support and food for about a month.
“The mood is generally good, a lot of people do obviously want to go home, so again, it’s about getting the help from the authorities so they can be taken back home as quickly and safely as possible,” he said.
Baker said two people who had fevers at the festival tested negative for coronavirus.
“What we’re telling people to do is get in touch with their embassies to get their help, like we say, we need and request the help of all authorities and embassies,” Baker said. “To date, we’ve had very limited help from them. To date, there’s not been the help with the cost of buses, there’s not been the help with flying and food and those kind of things.”
Government officials reported late in the day that Panama had 109 confirmed cases of the virus, including one death.
President Laurentino Cortizo then decreed a countrywide curfew starting Wednesday night, requiring nearly all Panamanians to stay inside from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Excepted are employees working in essential areas such as police and firefighting, hospitals and pharmacies, supermarkets and restaurant delivery, agriculture and food production, hotels and banks, media and telecommunications, and shipping and public transportation.