COVID-19 in Bocas del Toro updates on active cases, testing, vaccinations, local and national government policies and Panama entry procedures. There are zero confirmed active COVID-19 cases in the archipelago of Bocas del Toro, Panama. This article was last updated on May 11, 2022.
From an epidemiological standpoint, COVID-19 has affected the community of the Bocas del Toro archipelago relatively less when compared to the rest of Panama. However, being that the local economy is estimated to be 90-95% dependent on tourism, the pandemic restrictions on travel did present immense challenges to businesses in the area. Though it seems like the relatively low incidence of COVID-19 and the variety of “low-density” and “socially distant” tourism options have been favorable for Bocas del Toro’s recovery as we enter 2022.
The lack of densely populated areas, the abundance open-air outdoor spaces and a tight knit “island mentality” of its residents have all been considered as reasons for the relatively low numbers of the virus in Bocas del Toro. In late October and early November 2021, the community achieved a period of zero active cases. Holiday gatherings in December 2021 brought on the largest surge of the virus to date, though fortunately the cases have been mild.
NOTE: This link deals with COVID-19 in Bocas del Toro, specifically as it relates to the district of Bocas del Toro, which is not to be confused with the province of Bocas del Toro. The district of Bocas del Toro includes the archipelago and adjacent area mainland (grey on the map below), where as the province of Bocas del Toro also includes the districts of Changuinola, Chiriqui Grande and Almirante. Pulso Informativo is a Spanish language publication that is known to regularly publish epidemiological updates regarding the province as a whole.
Active Cases of COVID-19 in Bocas del Toro
As of May 10, 2022, there were 0 active COVID-19 cases in the Bocas del Toro archipelago, the same as our last report on March 25, 2022, and to our knowledge there have been zero cases since March. If there were any registered, they were not reported to The Bocas Breeze. There have been a total of 22 COVID-19 deaths since March 2020.
COVID-19 Vaccinations and Booster Shots
As far as we know, vaccines are still available at the Guillermo Sanchez Bourbon hospital on Isla Colon, Monday through Friday, 7am to 2pm. Anyone 16 or over who received their 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least three months ago is eligible for a booster shot.
COVID testing is free at the Hospital Guillermo Sánchez Borbón on Isla Colon, Monday-Saturday at 8am. Whoever is there at 8am can get a test. Results are given the same day. The tests are rapid antigen tests, as opposed to PCR. There are no PCR tests in Bocas del Toro, as far as we know.
Though some travelers have been able to use results from our hospital to board flights, the results given at the hospital are not guaranteed to serve as documentation for travel. It is best to organize COVID tests for travel documentation in Panama City. There is a list of recommended labs for testing in this article, including labs in David and Panama City that are able to provide PCR tests.
Panama Entry Procedures
Panama is open and receiving visitors. Fully vaccinated tourists do not have to present any negative tests. The definition of fully vaccinated had changed as of January 28, 2022 to include a third booster shot (with the exception of the Janssen from Johnson & Johnson), however on of February 16, 2022, by order of the Executive Decree No. 17, passengers entering Panama who have two vaccinations will not have to present a negative COVID test.
For the most updated information on entry procedures, high-risk countries and all COVID-19 related travel regulations, please follow the guidelines on this link on the official Panama tourism website.
Thank you to Mary Middlebrook of I Go Panama for putting together this easy to follow and up-to-date flow chart that can be easier to understand than the Panama tourism website page. If you are traveling to Panama and want to find out quickly whether you need to test or quarantine, based on your vaccination status and the country you are coming from, this link is definitely worth a look.
Recent Government Policy Updates
On the morning of March 25, 2022, the Ministry of Health announced that as of Monday, March 28, 2022, there will be no mandate to wear face masks outdoors and in open air spaces.
The mask mandate will still be in effect for indoor public spaces and on mass public transit until further notice and health officials are considering when to lift that mandate next. The requirement of a face shield on public transit will also be lifted as of March 28 as well.
Health officials are recommending that people over 60 years old, the auto immune compromised and those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 assess their own personal risk and consider wearing a face mask outdoors if they see fit.
The Bocas Breeze Statement Regarding COVID-19 in Bocas del Toro
Please follow the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and most importantly: practice habits for a strong immune system. Eat a healthy, balanced and nutritious diet. Consume plenty of vitamin C, among other important nutrients and minerals. Get proper sleep. Exercise regularly. Spend time in the sun (vitamin D). Fear and stress are also considered to lower your immune system defenses, so be aware of the virus but please do not live in fear. The strength and resilience of the community shall overcome all physical, mental and economic effects of the virus.
Bocas del Toro Accommodations, Bars, Restaurants, Tour Operators, Retail Shops and Professional Services
When in Bocas del Toro, we recommend the businesses that understand the value of a dedicated community newspaper that continue to support our free news service with their advertising dollars. Definitely check out the products and services of these fine institutions listed in the links below. When you have the opportunity: let them know that you saw their advertisement on The Bocas Breeze Newspaper!