Panama offers COVID-19 tests to international travelers
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Healthcare workers sit in a booth offering coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tests for travelers at the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City
Healthcare workers sit in a booth offering coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tests for travelers at the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, Panama October 16, 2020. REUTERS/Erick Marciscano

October 19, 2020

By Elida Moreno

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – Panama is the latest country to offer travelers a COVID-19 test when they arrive at its main airport, a little less than a week after resuming international flights following a seven-month suspension due to the pandemic.

The Sofia SARS Antigen Fluorescent Immunoassay tests are meant to prevent the import of new cases at a time when parts of Europe and the United States are seeing a resurgence.

International flights to and from Panama, a regional transportation hub, resumed on Monday, October 12.

Since then, some 1,000 people were tested, said Yelitza Campos, an adviser at Jers Medical, the distributer of the tests in Panama.

A Panamanian health official said of those tested, about 20 people have come back positive for COVID-19.

Panamanians hope resuming international air travel with additional safety measures will help the Isthmus nation known for its famous shipping canal regain competitiveness.

Raffoul Arab, the manager of the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, said the tests are for travelers who do not already have a negative test less than 48 hours old.

Venezuelan traveler Jorge Lopez last week arrived in Panama City on a flight from Miami and took the test at the airport, in a few seconds, without having to wait in line for it.

“This makes traveling to Panama easier,” he said. “Here, they do the test quickly and at $50 it’s accessible.”

Panama, which took strict measures earlier this year to contain the spread of the pandemic, has so far registered about 125,000 official cases and 2,500 deaths. 

(Reporting by Elida Moreno; editing by Diane Craft)