PARAMARIBO, Suriname– President Chan Santokhi has announced a series of new measures, including a nine-hour curfew as the Dutch-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country moves to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Santokhi said that his new coalition administration had no alternative but to extend the existing curfew and the lockdown of the country for another two weeks.
“Otherwise, we foresee further escalation with negative personal, social and economic consequences,” he told the nation on Monday night.
Suriname has 2,489 positive cases of the virus including 785 active cases, of which 98 were recorded in the past 24 hours.
The new curfew, which went into effect on Monday, is from 8.00 pm to 5.00 AM (local time) is valid until August 23. Suriname has also closed its international borders, including ferry services to Guyana, until at least August 14. However, exceptions are made for medical emergencies, freight operations, and repatriation.
“The figures paint a gloomy picture. We are noticing an accelerated increase in the number of infections. It is an almost untenable situation”, President Santokhi said, adding that the “critical point” has not yet been reached.
“But we are not going to wait for that. We do not want a situation that we cannot cope with,” he said, noting among the factors, an increased pressure on health care.
The authorities have said the Wanica Regional Hospital, for example, is becoming full, quarantine places are becoming fewer and extra beds have even been reserved in other hospitals. A field hospital has also been set up on the site of the Wanica Regional Hospital.
“Because there are still parties and gatherings that are known to promote COVID-19. We don’t treat ourselves and each other with care,” President Santokhi said, acknowledging that the society wants to go back “to the life we knew and normalization.
“But that is not possible without conditions. We must adhere to the mandatory measures. The virus continues to spread and continues to spread because we do not adhere to the measures optimally.”
Among the other measures outlined by the government include the mandatory wearing of mouth/nose covering outside of the home and especially when entering public spaces, reducing the operating practices for restaurants and other eateries as much as possible to take away service and prohibiting gathering of more than five persons except for work, education, religious gatherings and funerals.
The government said that all gyms and centers are closed until further notice. Contact sports are also not allowed and that all private facilities – casinos, gambling and entertainment venues, including Suribet, bars, clubs, dance halls and brothels – are closed.