Chronicles of the Coronavirus in Latin America

Iuliia Vashchenko
Ph.D. in Political Science,
La Paz, Bolivia

In Latin American countries, the total number of deaths from the COVID-19 virus has already reached 100 thousand. Only in Brazil, as of June 23, 53.830 deaths were recorded from the coronavirus, 1.190.000 people were infected. To date, the country has become the second in the world after the United States, which has come close to such indicators. What strategies do regional governments intend to apply? How do Latin American states plan to deal with the pandemic outbreak?

Latin American countries have already recorded record levels for the coronavirus pandemic. According to the analysis realized by the “France Presse” news agency based on official data, the number of victims from the COVID-19 has already exceeded 100.000 deaths in the Latin American and Caribbean region. More than half of the deaths occur in Brazil, a country led by ultra-right-wing leader Jair Bolsonaro (Port. – Jair Messias Bolsonaro), whose epidemic strategy has been widely criticized from the start.

The magnitude of the Latin American public health emergency is becoming more apparent every day. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 2.2 million infections have been identified in the region. Today, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, and Chile are the most affected by the pandemic, according to the indicators. Latin American countries with densely populated cities and high poverty rates are facing an outbreak of coronavirus, while infection and mortality in Europe and Asia are gradually declining. The number of infected doubled in less than a month and reached 2.2 million.

According to epidemiologists, the true indicators of coronavirus infection are probably much larger because Latin American countries have not resorted to rigorous population testing programs. Specialists from the World Health Organization (WHO) believe that the actual number of deaths may be much higher.

In the most densely populated country in the region – Brazil – only in the last day (June 23), there are about 40 thousand new infected and over 1.3 thousand deaths. Mexico, the second most affected coronavirus, recorded over 2.2 thousand new cases and 793 deaths per day. For all the time in this Latin American country, more than 190 thousand people have been infected, and more than 23 thousand have died from complications. Peru’s authorities have officially announced that they recorded the lowest rates of coronavirus infection in the last 40 days, revealing only 2511 new cases. Peru is currently recognized as the sixth country in the number of confirmed cases in the world.

In recent days, Chile has bypassed Spain and has become the seventh country in the world in terms of the number of infected people after identifying 4608 new cases on 23 June. Only the USA, Brazil, Russia, India, Great Britain and Peru are ahead of this South American country. Over the past day, 275 confirmed cases in Ecuador, 119 of them in the Pichincha region, according to the report of the Ministry of Health. According to general indicators, the number of infected people in Ecuador exceeded 50 thousand people, and there are more than 4 thousand deaths.

On June 23, the Government of Argentina confirmed that the total number of cases infected with the coronavirus is 47.616, the death toll is 1.078. In turn, the Ministry of Health of Bolivia recorded a total of 26.389 cases since the start of the pandemic, of which 6.300 recovered and 846 died. The Colombian Ministry of Health cites 73.572 cases of the COVID-19 in that country, of which 30.459 recovered and 2.404 died.

In recent days, it has been noted that the crisis caused by coronavirus infection is deepening in Central America. In particular, in Guatemala, more than 700 cases of the disease and 35 deaths were registered for the first time per day (June 23). For all the time in this country with a population of 17 million, there are almost 13 thousand cases of infection and 582 deaths.

The tragedy caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has not come to the region alone. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has warned that in North and South America the number of dengue cases is already more than 1.6 million people and 580 deaths by 2020, so it has asked governments to strengthen mosquito control, transmitting the virus, as this situation may further complicate the work of health systems in the midst of the current coronavirus pandemic. According to the PAHO, in the first five months of this year, most cases were reported in Brazil: 1.040.481, accounting for 65% of the total. Other countries with a significant number of dengue infections are: Paraguay – 218,798 cases; Bolivia – 82 460, Argentina – 79 775 and Colombia – 54 192. A high incidence of dengue is also recorded in Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua.

The Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez (Spanish – Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón) and 12 Latin American leaders have already requested international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the World Bank to create new forms of financing for Latin America, the region most affected by the pandemic at the moment. Sánchez took the initiative to create a virtual conference “Together for the answer for Latin America and the Caribbean” (Spanish – Juntos por una respuesta para América Latina y el Caribe), designed to convince financial institutions to develop new tools that will help “rebuild” the region only in macroeconomic terms, but also in the field of health and employment.

According to many international experts, the peak of the epidemic in Latin America is yet to come. However, a number of regional governments have already stated that health systems cannot cope with the number of cases caused by the COVID-19 virus. Representatives of WHO increasingly criticize the authorities of Latin American countries for the lack of not only a common regional strategy, but also internal programs aimed at overcoming the current health crisis.

Today, not only the health of nations, but also the internal contradictions associated with the political turbulence faced by several countries at once is “at stake” in many Latin American countries. Whether the regional governments will be able to unite and cope with the outbreak of coronavirus will be shown in the coming weeks, and while the region is again “split” and each country is trying to deal with the sanitary crisis “alone”, while simultaneously resolving its internal conflicts.

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