Panama says will temporarily close border with Colombia over COVID-19 risk

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A banner reading "Stay at Home" is pictured near an empty avenue during the curfew as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues, in Panama City, Panama March 31, 2020. REUTERS/Erick Marciscano

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PANAMA CITY, May 20 (Reuters) - Panama will temporarily close its border with Colombia beginning Thursday to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and tighten security, its government said, after Colombia reopened the land and maritime crossings on the border.

Panama's government said Colombia's decision to reopen the borders "puts at risk the significant progress" that Panama made to control the COVID-19 pandemic and border security.

"The national government has determined to temporarily suspend the entry into the national territory by land, sea and river routes of any person coming from the border with the Republic of Colombia, as of May 20, 2021," the foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

Colombia on Wednesday reopened its land, river and sea borders with Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Panama, which had been closed since March 17, 2020, its government said.

Panama has recorded 372,221 cases of coronavirus and 6,305 deaths, according to government data.

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Reporting by Elida Moreno; Writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Alex Richardson

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