How Coronavirus Has Changed Society in Guatemala
For the first time in years, we’ve had the chance to stop our lives, get back home, spend the whole day with our families, and reconnect with ourselves. It’s impressive how a disease can have the power to both separate and bring people together at the same time. Coronavirus in Guatemala has come to change everything: the way we interact with others, how people study, transportation, jobs, and many other things; in this blog post we’ll get deeper into this topic and analyze the reality of this virus in Guatemala.
First, the Numbers
COVID-19 statistics around the world are alarming. According to the official Coronavirus App, some of the most affected countries are the United States (212,901 cases with 83,948 just in New York), Italy (110,574 cases), Spain (104,118 cases), China (81,556 cases), and Germany (77,177 cases). Luckily for us, Guatemala has not reached these levels; in fact, according to the official site of El Gobierno de Guatemala, we have 49 confirmed cases, 12 recovered, and 1 deceased, as of April 1st. How is this possible? Isn’t Guatemala small enough for the virus to spread literally among everyone within days? These are some questions I’ll answer next as we discuss the measures that the current president Alejandro Giammattei has taken.
Coronavirus Measures in Guatemala
It’s clear that coronavirus in Guatemala hasn’t seriously affected the health of a large number of people in comparison to other countries. This wouldn’t have been possible without President Giammattei’s immediate orders to close the borders, prohibit group gatherings, and more (as you’ll see below). The entire population watched the virus ravage through other countries before it came to Guatemala and so with strict measures, we were able to prevent it from tearing through the population. Let’s take a look at some of the measures that we, as Guatemalans, are taking to stay safe. Check them out!
On March 16th, Giammattei gave a press conference explaining that many things were about to change, and that it was indispensable for all the citizens to follow the new rules until further notice. Here’s what he said:
- Events of all kinds and with any number of people are prohibited.
- Sports, cultural, and social activities are prohibited.
- Operation of urban and public transport is prohibited.
- Religious celebrations are suspended.
- Malls will be closed until further notice.
- The hoarding of medicines is prohibited.
- Hospital consultations should be external, so as not to risk infecting these institutions.
- Spreading fake news will be penalized with jail.
- Borders will be closed until further notice
- Meetings in bars, clubs, and any similar establishment are suspended.
- It is allowed to consume alcoholic beverages from 6:00 pm until 5:00 am the next day.
- Restaurants can work only if they have delivery or drive thru service.
- Establishments that may be open are those that provide basic necessities products, those that have a special permit from the Ministry of Economy, and the ones that are not positioned in malls and don’t allow too many people at the same time (so let’s say, supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, gas stations, and small independent stores).
- Curfew from 4pm-4am: all people must be at their homes no later than 4:00 pm, otherwise they will be penalized with jail and a monetary fine.
- If a person enters the country, they must be quarantined for one week in the Villa Nueva hospital, specifically.
Interaction Among People
After all the legal changes were announced, the interaction among the Guatemalan citizens changed in a significant way. Not only did people realize that the coronavirus was a serious situation in need of control, but also that they’d have to change their behavior even at home in order to stay safe. Here’s what’s changed so far:
- No more hand shaking: people stopped shaking (and even touching) hands. It’s believed that the virus can be spread through physical contact, so everybody stopped doing it. For example, if I’m infected and cough in my hand, if I shake hands with someone else and that person then touches his nose, he’d be automatically infected too because the virus would enter through the respiratory tract.
- No more cheek kissing: same as hand shaking. In Guatemala, we say hi to each other by giving a kiss on the cheek, but that’s not happening anymore. Instead, people are lightly touching each other’s elbows to say hi, this way they would avoid direct contact with the other person’s skin.
- Everyone’s wearing masks and gloves: since Giammattei confirmed the new “game rules,” people started to buy masks and gloves to stay protected. Now, if you go to a supermarket or to a pharmacy, everyone is wearing a mask, and some people also wear latex or plastic gloves.
- No one brings shoes inside the house: some people are still working, so every time they get back home, they leave their shoes outside and then disinfect them with aerosol sprays like Lysol. People do this for prevention, because there is a possibility that the shoes get contaminated when the person walks on the street.
- People change and disinfect clothes upon arrival home: just like the shoes, clothes can also get contaminated. So, when people get home, the first thing they do is change their clothes and then soak them in water with detergent. This way they can prevent the virus from getting into their homes.
- Couples stopped seeing each other: this has been a big change for Guatemalans because our culture is very warm and caring, and not being able to be close to our partners has caused a negative emotional impact. It’s interesting to see how couples are respecting the rules and avoiding any physical contact with each other. Who would’ve ever believed it was possible?
- People are working from home: some companies have given the home office option to their employees. The country’s economy can’t stop so people are finding other ways to get their jobs done and be safe at the same time.
Religious services are a crucial factor for Guatemalans because we’re very religious as a country. In fact, Semana Santa is one of the most popular and significant seasons of the year, and we will not be able to celebrate it in April. However, the faith of Guatemalans is getting stronger than ever! Many priests, pastors, and religious preachers are doing Instagram and Facebook lives in order to impart mass or their religious services. Thousands of families are getting together during weekends in order to receive the words of God via online! It’s incredible how not even the coronavirus can stop believers, they always find a way.
Be Safe and Stay Home!
I’ve shared with you a glimpse into how coronavirus has changed Guatemala. Families are getting closer, employees and bosses are finding solutions, and believers are on fire! It’s a hard time for everyone, but together we’ll definitely get through this. Here at Homeschool Spanish Academy, we have relocated our Spanish-speaking teachers to instruct from the safety of their homes and we keep a close and caring eye on each other. Thanks to their resilience and dedication to teaching, we are still available for you in your pursuit to learn Spanish. In the end, technology is on our side! No matter which obstacles get in our way, community is always a healthy priority for people across the globe. Sign up for a free Spanish class to connect to a native Spanish-speaking teacher who is experiencing similar life-altering changes as you. Keep calm and carry on, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. We look forward to seeing you in class!
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