By Marco Aquino and Elida Moreno
LIMA, April 2 (Reuters) - Peru and Panama both started on Thursday limiting the times men and women can leave their homes in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Amid a strict quarantine in Peru, President Martin Vizcarra said on Thursday that men and women will only be allowed to leave their homes on designated days divided by gender.
On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only men will be able to leave their homes to stock up. Women can go out on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Nobody will be allowed to leave home on Sunday.
"We have to get fewer people to be on the streets every day," Vizcarra said in a virtual news conference with his cabinet of ministers and experts.
Vizcarra said it was easier for security forces to monitor the circulation of men and women to enforce the quarantine order, rather than using serial numbers of identity documents to divide up days, which some other countries have done.
He said the new measure, which will be in place until April 12, would not impact people who have an emergency or are authorized to work during the quarantine, such as those in essential food production, pharmacies and banks.
Peru has imposed tough measures to control the spread of coronavirus, although there have been a significant number of arrests for people breaking the quarantine. The country has recorded 1,414 confirmed cases with 55 deaths.
"We have 10 days left. Let's make this additional effort to get into this curve and we can have control of the evolution of this disease," Vizcarra said.
Panama's Security Minister Juan Pino had said a day earlier at a virtual press conference the government would tighten measures further, and that women and men would be able to leave the house only during predetermined hours.
"With an absolute quarantine, men and women will have a schedule to transit," Pino said. "The decision is part of an operational strategy that seeks to reduce the spread of COVID-19."
Panama has reported 1,317 coronavirus cases and 32 deaths. Pino also reiterated warnings that the health system could be overwhelmed if the number of people requiring intensive care rises substantially.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino in Lima and Elida Moreno in Panama; Writing by Adam Jourdan and Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Alistair Bell and Sam Holmes)
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