August could be key to fight against coronaviruses in Latin America

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At least six senior government officials have tested positive for the coronavirus in Brazil so far, the country with the second highest number of confirmed cases and deaths in the world after the United States. But this is not the only country in the region that has been devastated by the pandemic:

More than a dozen officials, including the acting president, have tested positive for the coronavirus in Bolivia, which broke its own record for new coronavirus infections in a single day last week. Peru, Argentina and Colombia are trying to catch up with the growing number of cases with new quarantine orders. And on Friday, Mexico overtook the United Kingdom to become the country with the third highest number of Covid-19 deaths in the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

In Mexico City, Dr Carlos Martínez Murillo, an emergency doctor who works in the Covid-19 ward of the capital’s general hospital, has reflected on his new reality for the past five months, a reality that has already claimed the lives of nearly of 600 people. health professionals in the country.

“I did not contract the disease but I have colleagues who did. Over the weeks and months, we have learned to manage our stress. I’m not saying the fear is gone. The fear remains, but we have channeled it [with our work]”Said Dr. Martínez.Colombia reported a new record for daily coronavirus cases after 10,673 new infections were recorded on Saturday, bringing the total to 306,181, its health ministry said. And even if some cities with low infection rates will be allowed to partially reopen, President Iván Duque had already extended his government’s quarantine measures until August 30.

Calling the province of Buenos Aires, where the country’s capital is located, “the epicenter of the problem,” Argentine President Alberto Fernández announced on Friday that the current quarantine would be extended until at least August 16, “while retaining this that it is today ”, because“ the virus is circulating even more ”. When it comes to testing, the positivity rate has increased from 22.4% to 26.2% in the past two weeks.

Carlos Lozada, Peruvian minister of housing, construction and sanitation told TV Peru on Friday that the Council of Ministers had decided to extend the country’s state of emergency by one month, until August 31. Lozada said the decision was made after authorities reported an increase in cases in at least four regions, including Cusco, home to Machu Picchu, Peru’s biggest tourist attraction.

The most affected region in the world

Latin America is, without a doubt, “the region of the world most affected” by the pandemic, Dr Marcos Espinal, director of the Department of Communicable Diseases of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), told CNN, in a recent interview.

“We are in a very critical situation. Brazil reported more than 40,000 new cases on Wednesday, Colombia more than 10,000 and Mexico more than 7,000. The next few weeks will be of great importance in figuring out how to flatten the curve. “Said Dr Espinal.

He added that some countries that had some success in the beginning, like Chile, now need to redouble their efforts due to aggravating factors of the pandemic such as working conditions, mobility and highly vulnerable populations.

“We must remember that there are great inequalities in Latin America and the Caribbean. There is a huge informal economy and it is more difficult to observe the rules of social distancing. A series of social, economic and public health challenges make the fight against the disease more difficult [in Latin America], and therefore controlling the pandemic will take longer, ”Espinal said.

Coronavirus hits Latin American politicians

In a televised message on Friday, Argentine President Alberto Fernández observed a disturbing trend in his country which has also been observed in other Latin American countries: “In the month of May we recorded 375 [Covid-19-related] death. In June, the number of people who had died was 700. Twenty-four days later it had risen to 1500. And within 24 days, it reached 3000. This means that the number of deaths has doubled every 24 days, ”the president said.

The ripple effects of the pandemic are sure to wreak havoc, warned a report released last week by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the World Health Organization, which warned that

Measures to contain the pandemic, including social distancing, will lead to a 9% drop in the region’s gross domestic product and a 14% rise in unemployment, he said.

And healthcare systems, pushed to their limits by the increasing number of infections, have had to halt efforts to contain noncommunicable and chronic diseases, which “But now everyone sees it’s real. “

CNNE’s Marcos Moreno reported from Rio de Janeiro, Ignacio Grimaldi reported from Buenos Aires, Rey Rodriguez reported from Mexico City, and Jessica Hasbun reported from Santo Domingo.

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