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Significant pandemic milestones:

  • February 21st: Likely transfer of coronavirus from a teacher (who had traveled to Europe)  to Panama's first coronavirus death victim (Norato González); Click Here
  • March 3rd: Resolution passed raising national alert level regarding coronavirus epidemic; Click Here
  • March 8th: First confirmed coronavirus death (Norato González) in Panama; Click Here
  • March 9th: First confirmed case of coronavirus in Panama; not the date of case arrival in Panama, but the date the coroniavirus link was confirmed; Click Here
  • March 12th: President Cortizo declares a a national state of emergency; Click Here
  • March 15th: Certain business hours regulated, elective surgeries and routine medical consults suspended; Click Here
  • March 15th: Several provinces invoke a "dry law" (banning sales of alcoholic beverages) and implementing curfews; Chiriqui Province included; Click Here
  • March 15th: Foreigners banned from entering Panama; Click Here
  • March 17th: Countrywide curfew (9:00PM to 5:00AM) mandated; Click Here
  • March 22nd: All commercial flights into and out of Panama suspended; Click Here
  • March 23rd: Countrywide curfew (5:00PM to 5:00AM) mandated; Click Here
  • March 25th: Countrywide quarantine with restricted mobility mandated; sales of alcoholic beverages banned; Click Here
  • May 11th: Effective date of lifting the ban on the sales of alcoholic beverages; Click Here
  • May 13th: The gradual reopening of certain categories of business; Click Here
  • May 18th: People are authorized to leave their homes to exercise outdoors, but on a short lease; Click Here
  • June 1st: Quarantine lifted, but a 7:00PM to 5:00AM curfew is in effect; Click Here
  • June 3rd: Hardware stores reopen with limited hours; Click Here
  • June 6th and June 8th: Curfew/mobility restrictions elevated for Panama, Panama Oeste, and Veragaus regions; Click Here and Click Here
  • July 25th: Full weekend quarantine (lockdown) re-implemented for Panama; Click Here
  • July 27th: More restrictive mobility constraints including gender restrictions re-implemented, including Chiriqui Province; Click Here and Click Here
  • August 14th: Tocumen International Airport begins to open up to limited flights; Click Here
  • August 17th: Some "Block 3" businesses will be permitted to start operations; Click Here
  • September 14th: Relaxation of mobility constraints for all but three provinces; Chiriqui, Colon, and Bocas del Toro constraints continue; Click Here
  • September 28th: Restaurants and inns reopen providing they follow Minsa guidelines; Click Here
  • October 12th: Cinemas, swimming pools, and casinos allowed to reopen, and borders reopened; Click Here and Click Here
  • October 24th: All quarantines lifted and curfews standardized across the country and relaxed to 11:00PM until 5:00AM; Click Here
  • December 25th: Total lockdown countrywide for Christmas and New Years; Click Here and Click Here
  • January 4th, 2021: Total lockdown countrywide until January 14th, 2021; Click Here
  • March 4th, 2021: Phase 2 of vaccinations against Covid-19 to start; Click Here

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Fully vaccinated people can fly in US

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Posted 02/04/2021

People fully vaccinated against Covid-19 can travel again if they take precautions such as wearing a mask and respecting social distancing, US health authorities said on Friday, April 2.

To travel within the country, those who have received the vaccines will not have to quarantine or undergo a Covid-19 test after traveling , said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

However, international travelers heading to the United States must test negative for Covid-19 before boarding the plane and undergoing a test after arrival.

Additionally, they will need to be quarantined if required by local authorities, the CDC said in a statement.

Meanwhile, vaccinated travelers traveling abroad may leave the country without a negative test , unless requested by the authorities of the destination country.

These new recommendations from the CDC come at a time when travel has recovered strongly in the United States, encouraged in particular by the Easter holidays and spring break.

A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the last recommended dose of the vaccine. For two-dose vaccines, this occurs after the second.

"More than one in five adults is already fully vaccinated" in the United States, said Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/travel/fully-vaccinated-people-can-fly-in-us

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Moderator comment: Two prior postings in this thread were removed at the request of the originator of those two postings. Because this current posting quotes the removed content, this reply by default

That is recklessly false.  Right now there are two cruise ships where all passengers are quarantined.  Given how rotovirus spreads in a cruise ship environment, those ships are not a good place to be,

Get used to the weekend lockdowns.  My contact told me before Easter that Panama would be locking down the weekends. THEN, the notices from the US Embassy said, if you go back and read them, satu

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OPINION: Stay on guard !!

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Posted 02/04/2021

THE BRAZILIAN variant of the new coronavirus has proven to be highly infectious and deadly. The restrictions imposed on travelers from South America have come drastically, albeit late, and better strategies are required in order to more effectively prevent the transmission of this strain, especially in this time of enormous local mobility due to the Holy Week. As of yesterday afternoon, 49 thousand vehicles had moved from the capital to the interior of the country. It is necessary that we continue to be careful and practice bio-sanitary measures; It is again in our hands to stop the spread of the virus, avoiding crowds, keeping social distancing, wearing a mask, and with frequent hand washing. Do not forget that this variant is more dangerous for young people, so they must be prudent and measured in what they do. The vaccination process is still in an incipient stage and young people (except those who suffer from a chronic disease or are in the first line) are at the bottom of the list in the immunization campaign. Everything will depend on our individual and collective behavior.- LA PRENSA, Apr. 2

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-stay-on-guard

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Mental health problems in doctors fighting Covid-19

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Posted 04/04/2021

Mental health problems,  among young doctors on the front line in the fight against  Covid-19  such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and suicidal thoughts have been revealed in a study prepared by a team of doctors and scientists.

In the study, 274 interns and 243 residents participated, out of an estimated 1,205 interns and residents in the country, and a prevalence of 25.3% of depression, 13.7% of anxiety, 12.2% of post-traumatic stress and 9.3% of suicidal thoughts.

The study was prepared by Edward Espinosa Guerra and Edgar Rodríguez Barría, doctors from the Residency Program of the Dr. Arnulfo Arias Madrid Complex together with Jean-Paul Carrera, epidemiologist and virologist from the Gorgas Memorial Institute for Health Studies (Icges), and Christl A. Donnelly, professor at Imperial College London, in the United Kingdom, between July 23 and August 13, 2020, in the 10 provinces of the country.

The average age of the participants is 27.9 years.

Jean-Paul Carrera, the senior author of the study, explained that the data were obtained through a questionnaire - applied digitally - with scales that allowed evaluating anxiety disorders, depression and post-traumatic stress.

In addition, in the sampling period, sociodemographic variables, medical history of mental disorders, and exposure to the Covid-19 disease were analyzed, explained the Gorgas scientist.

The study found prevalence rates comparatively similar to those of already documented investigations of health personnel in the Netherlands and Italy, but lower than those found during the pandemic in China.

Carrera said that it is clear that the pandemic has caused an increase in the prevalence of mental health disorders in the world population, and health workers do not escape this reality, so it is necessary to know the factors that influence these findings, evaluating the association or not of this result with mental health in order to carry out a comprehensive approach to support those who are on the front line.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/health/mental-health-problems-in-doctors-fighting-covid-19

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20 coronavirus positive at Veracruz beach

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Posted 04/04/2021

TWENTY visitors to Veracruz beach(Arraiján), between Friday and Saturday, tested positive with Covid-19, confirmed the Metropolitan Health Region.

According to the report,  103 people were tested as part of the Easter operation carried out in various sectors.

"The positive patients detected were quarantined for monitoring, detection and control, in addition to their direct contacts in traceability," reported the regional health authority.

Meanwhile, between Good Friday and Saturday, random swab tests were also applied to travelers at the transport terminal and at the Albrook mall; the 111 samples carried out were negative.

 

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/health/20-coronavirus-positive-at-veracruz-beach

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Curfew hours reduced from Monday

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Posted 05/04/2021

Curfew hours were adjusted on Monday, April 5  to 11 pm to 4 am Monday through Sunday, except for the total quarantine days provided by the Executive in some areas.

The schedule that previously governed was from 10:00 pm to 4:00 am

The Ministry of Health (Minsa)  also extended the hours for visiting beaches, rivers, and spas from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm, but the measure of restriction of consumption of alcoholic beverages and unlimited walks at these sites remains.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/curfew-hours-reduced-from-monday

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Spike in covid cases forecast

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Isla Grande on Easter weekend

Posted 05/04/2021

“Unexpected behavior " during the Easter weekend when thousands of people traveled to the interior and to spas will likely lead to  a surge in coronavirus cases in the next two weeks.

Leonardo Labrador, head of epidemiology at the Ministry of Health (Minsa) , highlighted that there was “unexpected behavior in some places “and that is what will cause us some concern for at least two weeks from now”, the time of "incubation" of the virus.

Labrador, who gave the statements on TVN, was referring to some beach sites where people did not keep their distance of at least four meters as was the case of Isla Grande during this weekend.

In recent weeks, the cases of Covid-19 in Panama have been on the decline. According to Labrador, the percentage of positivity remains below 5%.

Meanwhile, the cases of hospitalized people also continue to decline.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/health/spike-in-covid-cases-forecast-1

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Panama seeking Russian and Chinese vaccines

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The Sputnik V vaccine

Posted 07/04/2021

Panama is in a global race to acquire covid vaccines with the Russian Sputnik V of the Gamaleya Institute and the Chinese CoronaVac of the pharmaceutical company Sinovac as prime targets.

Eduardo Ortega Barría, the advisor to the Panama Covid-19 Vaccine Research Consortium and National Secretary of Science, Technology, and Innovation, confirmed that in the last four weeks they have worked to expand the country's portfolio of vaccines against Covid-19.

The country has an adequate number of agreed vaccines - 7.2 million doses - but it is necessary to bring more doses early in this second quarter or in the third quarter of the year.

The 7.2 million doses were agreed with the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer / BioNTech, Astra Zeneca / Oxford University, and with the Covax Mechanism of the World Health Organization (WHO). Meanwhile, 300,000 doses of the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson are under negotiation.

Barria said that the negotiations are focused on several aspects: how many doses can be delivered, on what date they can be delivered and the regulatory aspects related to the authorization of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the WHO, among other drug regulatory agents.

He said that the purchase of 3 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine (based on adenovirus and that requires two doses) for 1.5 million people has not yet been agreed upon and that negotiations with the pharmaceutical company Sinovac are ongoing.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/health/panama-seeking-russian-and-chinese-vaccines

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Spike in Covid cases from  Canada to Asia

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Posted 08/04/2021

Despite current vaccine drives, infection spikes have led to unpopular new restrictions enforced from Canada to Europe, and from South America to Asia reports Aljazeera.

Countries such as Belgium and France were scrambling to deal with overwhelmed hospitals and increasing infection rates, while India’s Maharashtra also ramped up restrictions after nationwide daily infections exceeded 100,000 for the first time.

Meanwhile, Canada was forced to tighten restrictions in several provinces after cases crossed the threshold of one million.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/health/spike-in-covid-cases-from-canada-to-asia

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Call for temporary ban on smoking areas

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Posted 10/04/2021

The  Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)has recommended temporarily banning smoking areas.

According to the international body, smokers are more likely to develop severe symptoms in cases of Covid-19 , compared to non-smokers.

PAHO considers the coronavirus to be an infectious disease that mainly attacks the lungs and smoking impairs lung function, making it difficult for the body to fight this and other diseases.

"Smoking in public places entails, not only the exposure of third parties to tobacco smoke but also a series of habits that would not be very favorable for preventive health measures," the report indicates.

In fact, this organism considers as a “potential risk” that infected smokers can expel virus-carrying microdroplets by not wearing masks, with the possibility of infecting the people around them.

He also recalled that certain devices used for smoking, such as water pipes, often involve the shared use of nozzles and hoses, which can facilitate the transmission of Covid-19 in community and social settings.

One of the main conclusions of PAHO is that in addition to representing a threat to the health of passive smokers, designated smoking areas in public places such as restaurants, hotels, airports, and other establishments, can become critical points, putting in Public health risk now when talking about a possible third wave of the virus.

On this issue, the pulmonologist Fernando Márquez stressed that, as specialists, they will always advocate that their patients do not smoke and much more in scenarios like this, in which the virus attacks the lungs.

"Smoking produces an inflammatory reaction in the bronchi and that can be aggravated by Covid-19," explained Márquez, adding that smoking patients who develop emphysema (damage to the lungs) and who carry the virus are more likely to die than those non-smokers.

 d much more in scenarios like this, in which the virus attacks the lungs.

"Smoking produces an inflammatory reaction in the bronchi and that can be aggravated by Covid-19," explained Márquez, adding that smoking patients who develop emphysema (damage to the lungs) and who carry the virus are more likely to die than those non-smokers.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/health/call-for-temporary-ban-on-smoking-areas-2

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Health Ministry not the only voice in pandemic crisis

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Posted 11/04/2021

Panama is experiencing a crisis with impacts on the social, economic, and health levels, so it cannot be that the Ministry of Health (Minsa) is "The only voice that affects the future of the country" said Panama’s Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture  (Cciap) on Sunday, April 11.

As examples of this scenario, the Cciap cited the decisions made regarding the gradual return to classrooms, as well as the excessive controls imposed on the entry and handling of travelers from South America.

"Postponing the beginning of the gradual voluntary blended return to classes and the accounts of what is lived in the main air terminal of the country, as well as the handling of people in different accommodation points to conclude that the position of the Minsa has prevailed over the arguments of the other instances ”,  said the Chamber in its weekly La Cámara Opina The union recalled that multiple accredited voices have spoken against the restrictions on travelers from South America and the suspension of the gradual return to classrooms.

The fundamental basis of life in a democracy, said the Cciap, is the empire of justice, since, lacking it, “citizens and society are unprotected from their fundamental guarantees, a situation that has become evident and worsened during the pandemic”.

After successes and mistakes, Panamanian children and young people need to return to the classrooms in conditions that allow them a comprehensive development in the educational aspect.

"For this, the Chamber demands that the State, through its different organs respect and guarantee the fundamental rights of all".

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/health-ministry-not-the-only-voice-in-pandemic-crisis

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Active cases of covid-19 fall

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House to house swab tests were conducted in San Miguelito through the weekend.

Posted 11/04/2021

Active cases of covid -19  fell to 4,217 on Sunday, April 11, 103 less Saturday, and 242 less than Friday.

234 new positive cases of Covid-19 and 4 deaths were reported

There are 477 hospitalized patients and of these 414 are in the ward and 63 in ICU.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/health/active-cases-of-covid-19-fall-1

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HEALTH - Dramatic drop in covid hospitalizations

Posted 11/04/2021

Panama has seen a dramatic drop in hospitalizations between March 28 and April 3, with 430 patients in the ward and 63 in  ICU  says  the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Hospital admissions decreased by 100 (17.4%), going from an average of 576 in week 12 to 476 in week 13.

According to the report, ICU patients were also reduced by 24.5%, going from an average of 102 patients to 77 during the same weeks.

The document added that in March Panama had an average of 675 hospitalized patients in the ward, ranging from 1,036 at the beginning of the month to 496 at the end; and presenting a reduction of 53% compared to the average of 1,432 revenues registered in February.

The ICU had an average of 111 admissions, with a maximum of 170 at the beginning of March and 72 at the end of the month, meaning a decrease of 46% compared to the average of 204 ICU patients in February.

At the close of Saturday, April 10, the Epidemiological Surveillance

System of Panama confirmed the death of 3 people and the contagion of another 279 by covid-19.

From March 9, 2020 until this Saturday, 6,159 citizens have died in the country. The lethality from the virus is set at 1.7%.

There are 506 hospitalized 440 in the ward and 66 in the ICU.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/health/health-dramatic-drop-in-covid-hospitalizations

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27 cases of covid-19 in S. America travelers

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Posted 12/04/2021

Since regulations governing the entry into the country of travelers from South America came into force, on March 31 and  rejected by  the private sector. 27 positive cases of Covid-19 have been detected, after the application of 3,943 tests, in Tocumen International Airport

The 27 positive cases are analyzed by the Gorgas Memorial Institute to determine if they are of the Brazilian variant.

With the first cases in Panama of the Brazilian variant of, detected in March, the authorities issued an Executive Decree 260 on  March 31, 2021, that is established that said people from South American countries must comply with the presentation of a negative result for the virus 48 hours before arrival.

In addition, another test will be applied free of charge, which if negative will have to comply with a five-day quarantine and a new test will be performed to rule out the presence of the virus; if so, the quarantine is terminated. Otherwise, the protocols for positive cases are applied.

The measure was rejected by the private sector that asked that the regulation be eliminated. The authorities say that every week the measures taken are evaluated and that adjustments are likely to be made.

The Minsa reported that since the Tocumen air terminal resumed its activities in October 2020, 84,424 tests have been carried out and a total of 1,208 positive people with coronavirus have been detected.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/health/27-cases-of-covid-19-in-s-america-travelers

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President gets second vaccine jab

Posted 12/04/2021

President, Laurentino Cortizo, received the second dose of the Pfizer / BioNtech vaccine on Monday, April 12 at the vaccination center installed at the Dr. Belisario Porras school, in the San Francisco district.

This Monday the vaccination was resumed in the 8-8 circuit made up of the townships of Don Bosco, San Francisco, Parque Lefevre, Juan Díaz and Río Abajo.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/president-gets-second-vaccine-jab

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Panama analyzing digital “Health Passports”

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Posted 12/04/2021

Panama’s  Foreign Ministry is analyzing at least three digital “Health Passports”. These are the platforms provided by the Commons Project, the World Economic Forum, and the Rockefeller Foundation called “CommonPass”, that of the International Air Transport Association called “IATA Travel Pass” and the “IBM Digital Health Pass”.

These platforms seek to establish a digital registry of vaccine against Covid-19 or PCR tests aimed at facilitating the entry of travelers to certain territories.

Foreign Minister Egika  Mouynes explained that they have a technical team that evaluates, on the one hand, the technological provisions, and also the capacity for the international articulation of these proposals is being taken into account. "The criteria that will decide our participation in these proposals will be inclusion and the best utility for the majority of citizens,” she said.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/travel/panama-analyzing-digital-health-passports-1

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Vice President Touts Success of  Transparent Covid Measures

Posted 14/04/2021

Transparency, accountability and efficient use of public funds have characterized the government of President Cortizo during the pandemic, said Vice President and Minister of the Presidency,  Jose Gabriel Carrizo   when  delivering his annual report to the Budget Commission of the National Assembly on Wednesday  April 14 .

"Thanks to the efforts of our health personnel and the effective coordination of the National Government, today Panama is one of the countries with the lowest fatality rate due to coronavirus in the world and leads vaccination in the region," Carrizo said before the eyes of his fellow party members, PRD deputies Benicio Robinson, president of the commission; Crispiano Adames, and Raúl Pineda, among others.

Carrizo, who has been pilloried because of the lack of information that his ministry has provided regarding purchases from the health crisis, described the handling of the pandemic as "successful." He mentioned that according to the World Bank, the Panama Solidario plan, which has benefited more than 1,300,000 Panamanians, prevented poverty from going from 14.9% to 20.8%.

Panama Solidario is under citizen scrutiny for its opaque management. For example, at the end of March, the Government reported that payments to suppliers of $259 million had been committed to supply the 7 million bags of food that have been distributed. But in Panama Compra, only purchases for $29 million had been reported for that purpose. That is, they have barely accounted for 10% of the $259 million. reports La Prensa.

The Vice President also explained to the deputies why President Cortizo decreed a state of emergency and not an emergency, as a result of Covid-19. He said that the state of emergency was invoked because doing so meant suspending constitutional guarantees. "During the pandemic, all the guarantees have been in force, including the right to property and legal security, which facilitated the arrival of good investments, keys to economic reactivation," he said.

However, in the Supreme Court of Justice there are more than 10 appeals that seek to have several of the Executive's decrees declared unconstitutional, which, according to the lawyers who filed them, violate fundamental guarantees.

At the beginning of March it was announced that the Third Administrative Litigation Chamber of that court provisionally suspended article 8 of Executive Decree No. 7 of February 5, 2021, by means of which powers are granted to the Minister of Health, Luis Francisco Sucre, to declare measures to restrict mobility, curfews and any other measure to mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic, without the participation of the Executive.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/vice-president-touts-success-of-transparent-covid-measures

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HEALTH: Sedentary lifestyle increases  covid-19 death risk

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Posted 14/04/2021

Lack of exercise is associated with an increased risk, in the case of Covid-19, of developing a more serious form of the disease and dying as a result of it, according to a study of almost 50,000 patients published this Wednesday.

People who had been physically inactive for at least two years before the pandemic were more likely to be hospitalized, require intensive care and die from the novel coronavirus disease compared to patients who were physically active, according to the study. published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Among the risk factors for severe disease, only advanced age and a history of organ transplantation outweigh physical inactivity, according to the researchers.

In fact, compared to other risk factors such as smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases or cancer, "physical inactivity was the most important risk factor in all the results," they emphasize.

The risk factors most associated with a severe covid are advanced age, the male sex and some pre-existing diseases, such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases.

But that of physical inactivity had not yet been studied. To analyze its possible impact on the severity of infection, hospitalization, the need for resuscitation and death, the researchers compared the evolution of 48,440 adults infected with Covid-19 between January and October 2020, in the United States.

The average age of the patients was 47 years and almost two-thirds were women (62%). On average, their body mass index (BMI) was 31, just above the obesity threshold.

About half had no prior ailments such as diabetes, chronic lung, cardiovascular or kidney disease, and cancer. Almost 20% had one of these risk factors and almost a third (32%) had two or more.

All had declared their level of regular physical activity at least three times between March 2018 and March 2020 during clinic visits.

Among them, 15% described themselves as inactive (0 to 10 minutes of physical activity per week); 7% affirmed to respect the health recommendations (at least 150 minutes per week) and the rest said to practice “some activity” (11-149 minutes per week).

About 9% of the total were hospitalized and 2% died.

After taking into account differences by age, ethnic origin, and comorbidity, sedentary people with Covid-19 were more than twice as likely to be admitted to a hospital than the more active ones.

They were also 73% more likely to need resuscitation and 2.5 times more likely to die from the infection.

Patients who did not engage in any physical activity were also more likely to be hospitalized and die from the infection than those who used to exercise.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/health/health-sedentary-lifestyle-increases-covid-19-death-risk

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