The Bolivian government is thinking of pushing the clocks one hour back to prevent the spread of colds and influenza A virus subtype H1N1 in Bolivia’s winter* season. The plan would see Bolivia move from four hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC-4 hours) to UTC-5 hours if the change was to occur.
Health Minister Ramiro Tapia recently announced the plan to the local media in Bolivia. Some media sources anticipated that the time zone change would occur on Sunday, June 21, 2009. However, Mr Tapia (cited on June 16, 2009, in La Razón: Salud sugiere retrasar la hora en el invierno) did not specify when the change would occur, its duration, or its continuity in the future. Other government bodies are currently reviewing the proposal and a response will most likely follow in about one week from June 16, 2009.
Health Issues the Key Influence
The health minister said that the proposal to move Bolivia’s time zone one hour back aimed to minimize the spread of common colds, as well as to counteract influenza A virus subtype H1N1, which already infected some people in the country. Mr Tapia (cited on June 16, 2009, in La Razón: Salud sugiere retrasar la hora en el invierno) hoped that the proposed time zone change would reduce the number of winter respiratory infections.
Mr Tapia said that the coldest time of the day (in Bolivia) was between 6am (06:00) and 8am (08:00). People can arrive at their offices and children arrive at schools when the temperature is slightly warmer in the morning if the clocks are moved one hour back during the nation’s winter period. Mr Tapia also said that the National Service of Meteorology and Hydrology (SENAMHI), as well as the Health and Labor departments, would consider the proposal, most likely during the week of Monday, June 22, 2009 (terra Noticias: Bolivia estudia retrasar una hora los relojes para reducir los contagios de todo tipo de gripe).
Representatives from the Ministries of Health and Education have held meetings in Santa Cruz, with the focus on working collaboratively to prevent the spread of the influenza A virus subtype H1N1. Bolivia’s National Center for Tropical Diseases found that 14 people in the country were infected with the virus so far.
Time Zone and Recent History
Bolivia is currently on UTC-4 hours. However it will move to UTC-5 hours if the proposal goes ahead. It has never implemented such a proposal before but attempts have been made in the past 10 years to push the clocks back during Bolivia’s winter months. However, these attempts were unsuccessful.
*References to winter in this article related only directly to Bolivia’s winter time. Bolivia is in the southern hemisphere.