Coronavirus in Latin America – actions on Health and Travel

coronavirus update
Rio's Christ the Redeemer statue is lit up with the flags of countries currently afflicted by the new coronavirus in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, March 18, 2020. For most people COVID-19 causes mild or moderate symptoms. For others, especially the elderly and people with existing health problems, it can cause many other serious illnesses, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Mandatory isolation, closure of borders, subsidies for unemployed people among other measures are the weapons of Latin American countries in the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The outbreak started in Brazil on February 26 and as of April 6, positive cases exceed 31000 citizens and the death toll surpassed 1000 people.

Lockdown in Latin America

With the previous experience from China and prior decrees ordering the ban of massive events and gatherings, different nations decided to enact a preventive lockdown in which free movement is restricted to food and medicine purchase, bank operations and commuting of workers in charge of essential jobs. This is the case of Peru, in which citizens and tourists had to stay home since March 13. Argentina and other countries decided to adopt similar decisions and now almost all Latin American streets remain close to silent. Colombia has extended the quarantine until April 26. In the case of Chile, some local governments started a lockdown in cities with a high increase in new cases. The Dominican Republic stated a night curfew.

coronavirus in latin america

Latin community reacted in different ways to this severe measure. Northern Peru reports contempt of the enacted laws given by Ministries and the recently installed Congress. Argentinian locals did not follow lockdown strictly during the first weeks. Ecuador, featuring dramatic scenes worldwide has not stated quarantine measures but only partial vehicular movement restrictions. On the other hand, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro criticized the efforts of the governors in Sao Paulo and Rio, including quarantine and school closure measures. Casserole protests shown the rejection of Bolsonaro’s attitude towards the sanitary emergency. 

Coronavirus in Latin America, Other actions on Health and Travel

Closure of borders implemented in several territories bans aerial, aquatic and terrestrial entries. Little by little, the international arrivals board at the airport displayed canceled flights and stranded tourists worried. Humanitarian flights helped to repatriate travelers and ex-pats safely.

The high demand for facemasks and hand sanitizer led to the importing of these supplies as well as the building or implementation of new hospitals exclusive for COVID-19 patients. Diagnosis centers are under national management, but some countries also include private testing, in some cases, like Chile, with a charge. Elementary, middle and secondary schools, furthermore, technical schools and universities remain closed in Latin America.

On children, elderly and vulnerable people

The crisis of the population who survive on a daily income leaded governments to distribute food during the quarantine. Soldiers in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and other cities distributed supplies to ensure nobody would get out of home. Peru destined a 110 USD subsidy to vulnerable citizens and launched virtual education through online attendance and lessons through radio and television. 

coronavirus in latin america

Uncertainty about the Latin American Economy

The cease of operations in China leaded a fall in demand for raw material and a drop in petroleum prices in Ecuador, Venezuela and worldwide. Besides, the considerable decrease in exportations threats the economic situation in countries such as Bolivia, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay. Forecasts expected low rates of economic performance in this part of the world, but the impact of the coronavirus will translate most likely in negative GPB net growth.

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