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Puerto Rico imposes curfew, closings to contain coronavirus spread

Puerto Rico has confirmed five cases of coronavirus, but there are at least 17 other suspected cases.
Image: The empty docks of Muelle de San Juan in Puerto Rico on March 15, 2020.
The empty docks of Muelle de San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sunday, March 15, 2020.Gabriella N. Baez / Reuters

Puerto Rico's governor announced an islandwide curfew and the closings of nonessential businesses to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

In a televised press conference Sunday, Gov. Wanda Vázquez announced a strict curfew that allows Puerto Ricans to go out of their homes between the hours of 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. to buy essential items or to go medical appointments, work or to assist children or the elderly.

In addition, the only businesses that will be open are those selling essentials such as supermarkets, drugstores, banking centers and gas stations. At 6 p.m. on Sunday, non-essential retailers and commercial establishments were ordered closed until March 30th.

Gov. Vázquez said to the island's largest newspaper, El Nuevo Dia, that Puerto Ricans should be in their homes "24/7" to try to halt the spread of the virus.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

"Amid the possibility of the virus' transmission and propagation even among people who present no symptoms, we have to take all the precautions so we don't become potential transmitters of the disease," the governor said in the Sunday morning press conference.

The island has five confirmed coronavirus cases, including those of an Italian couple who were visiting the island on a cruise; the woman, who is ill, is 68, and her husband, who was found also to be infected, is 70. The third patient is an 87-year-old California man who fell ill after stopping on another ship in the island, a popular cruise ship destination.

The fourth patient is a local man, 71, who is also a cancer patient, and a 65-year-old woman became the fifth patient confirmed Sunday.

Puerto Rico has at least 17 more suspected cases.

The governor had previously announced that public schools would close for two weeks and that no cruise ships would be docking in the island.

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