How the World Prepares for the Coronavirus Pandemic

Citizens from Uganda to Haiti are adjusting their behaviors as they face the spread of the new coronavirus. Some are profiting off the sale of hygiene products; others are just trying to survive amid closed borders and empty businesses. These photos offer a glimpse of life altered across the globe.

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Mexico City, Mexico

Juan Carlos Ramírez, top, sells masks for 10 Mexican pesos ($0.41) at the entrance to the “Vive Latino” music festival in mid-March. “It’s weird to me that the government doesn’t cancel the concert, but the government is in charge,” he says as he hawks his merchandise.

Tania Hernández, bottom, wears a mask she bought at the festival to avoid catching the coronavirus or infecting others if she’s a carrier. The masks cost 3 Mexican pesos ($0.14) at her local pharmacy, but they’re sold out.

Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez, Mexico’s undersecretary of prevention and health promotion, has discouraged the use of masks in favor of continual hand-washing, which he says proves more effective in avoiding the coronavirus. Mexico has reported 717 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, as of March 28, according to the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center. Twelve people have died.

Mar García, GPJ Mexico 

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Lusaka, Zambia

Thomas Banda, left, sells hand-washing basins to Rachel Zulu, right, and Emmanuel Zulu. The Ministry of Health made hand-washing mandatory in all public places as concerns increase about the spread of the coronavirus. Zambia has reported 28 cases as of March 28, according to the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center.

“Regular hand-washing is now a priority for all public places, even homes,” says Chitalu Chilufya, the country’s minister of health. “Institutions that will be found without hand-washing facilities risk being closed up and penalized.”

Prudence Phiri, GPJ Zambia

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Erdenebulgan, Arkhangai Province, Mongolia

Truck driver Rokhat Tsaitegal stops at a checkpoint, where inspectors take his temperature and ask him a series of questions to monitor against the coronavirus. Mongolia was one of the first countries to secure its borders, suspend public transportation and close schools. The government has confirmed 12 cases as of March 28.

“All I want is to deliver the loads in one piece and go home,” Rokhat says. “Then I will stay at home.”

Odonchimeg Batsukh, GPJ Mongolia

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Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Mirlande Gaspard helps her son, Lens, wash his hands — an action encouraged by the Haitian government to fight the coronavirus. Gaspard worries about its spread in a country with a precarious health care system.

“As we have very few hospitals, I want to be prepared in case of an outbreak and get my children to understand the need to wash their hands regularly,” she says.

The country has set a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., closed public places and restricted gatherings of more than 10 people. Officials have confirmed eight coronavirus cases as of March 28.

Anne Myriam Bolivar, GPJ Haiti

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Kampala, Uganda

Richard Isingoma, a communications service provider at Simba Telecom, scrubs merchandise with liquid soap. “We receive many clients daily,” he says. “So, to avoid coronavirus, we regularly clean our phones.”

Uganda, which has confirmed 23 cases of the coronavirus as of March 28, recently closed its borders. Officials shut down schools, temporarily stopped religious gatherings and suspended public transportation.

Apophia Agiresaasi, GPJ Uganda

Click here to read more Global Press Journal coverage of the coronavirus.