Coronavirus: Is Latin America the following focal point?

Coronavirus cases have been rising forcefully in numerous Latin American nations, making expanding concern territorial wellbeing specialists.

Brazil has in excess of 300,000 affirmed cases – the third most noteworthy on the planet.

Different nations in the district, including Mexico, Chile and Peru, are likewise attempting to contain significant flare-ups.

With new confirmed cases in the US plateauing and many European countries reporting declining numbers, is Latin America on course to become the new epicentre of the pandemic?

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Reported coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people in Latin America
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The first confirmed case in Latin America was identified in Brazil on 26 February, although researchers have said there are indications that there were cases there as early as January.

Coronavirus has since spread to every country in the region.

More than 600,000 cases have been recorded, and more than 30,000 people have died, according to the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is far fewer cases and deaths than in Europe and the US, but testing is nowhere near as widespread and deaths may be under-reported.

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data in detail

Scroll table to see more data

*Deaths per 100,000 people

Brazil 20,047 9.6 310,087
Mexico 6,510 5.2 59,567
Peru 3,148 9.8 108,769
Ecuador 2,939 17.2 35,306
Colombia 652 1.3 18,330
Chile 589 3.1 57,581
Dominican Republic 448 4.2 13,657
Argentina 416 0.9 9,931
Panama 291 7.0 10,116
Bolivia 215 1.9 5,187
Honduras 156 1.6 3,204
Cuba 80 0.7 1,908
Guatemala 48 0.3 2,512
El Salvador 33 0.5 1,725
Haiti 25 0.2 734
Uruguay 20 0.6 749
Nicaragua 17 0.3 279
Saint Martin 15 40.3 77
Martinique 14 3.7 192
Guadeloupe 13 3.3 155
Paraguay 11 0.2 836
Bahamas 11 2.9 97
Costa Rica 10 0.2 903
Venezuela 10 0.0 882
Guyana 10 1.3 127
Jamaica 9 0.3 534
Bermuda 9 14.3 125
Trinidad and Tobago 8 0.6 116
Barbados 7 2.4 90
Aruba 3 2.8 101
Antigua and Barbuda 3 3.1 25
Belize 2 0.5 18
French Guiana 1 0.4 249
Cayman Islands 1 1.6 121
Curaçao 1 0.6 16
Turks and Caicos Islands 1 2.7 12
Montserrat 1 20.0 11
Suriname 1 0.2 11
British Virgin Islands 1 3.4 8
Grenada 0 0.0 22
St Vincent and the Grenadines 0 0.0 18
Saint Lucia 0 0.0 18
Dominica 0 0.0 16
Saint Kitts and Nevis 0 0.0 15
Falkland Islands 0 0.0 13
Saint Barthelemy 0 0.0 6
Anguilla 0 0.0 3

This information is regularly updated but may not reflect the latest totals for each country.

** The past data for new cases is a three day rolling average. Due to revisions in the number of cases, an average cannot be calculated for this date.

Source: Johns Hopkins University, national public health agencies and UN population data

Figures last updated: 22 May 2020, 12:13 BST

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Latin America’s two most populous nations, Mexico and Brazil, have seen the highest number of deaths, more than 6,000 and 20,000 respectively.

And researchers say both could be significantly under-reporting deaths, with many cases going undiagnosed.

Peru has reported the 12th highest number of cases in the world with more than 100,000 confirmed – which is more than China.

And Chile is reporting thousands of new coronavirus cases each day, with more than 500 people dead.

Ecuador has seen the most deaths per capita in the region – with around 17 per 100,000 people. Daily cases in Ecuador have been dropping, but this is not the trend in many other countries in the region.

Peak not yet reached

Unlike in the US and most countries in Europe, many countries in Latin America are seeing their daily cases and deaths increase.

Looking at Brazil, Mexico and Peru compared to the worst hit countries in Europe in terms of deaths – the UK, Italy and France – you can see daily deaths are growing in Latin American nations as they drop elsewhere.

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Comparing countries
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The number of deaths in Brazil, Mexico and Peru is doubling roughly every two weeks, as opposed to about every two months in the UK, four months in France, and five months in Italy.

Deaths in the US are doubling about every two months.

And experts say the peak of the epidemic in some Latin American countries is still some weeks away.

About 80% of intensive-care beds in Peru’s capital, Lima, are occupied. In Chile’s capital, Santiago, it’s about 90%.

As daily cases continue to rise, there are concerns that healthcare systems could be overwhelmed, as has already been the case in Ecuador.

Pilar Mazzetti, who is leading of the Peruvian government’s coronavirus response, said: “We’re in bad shape. This is war.”

What is being done to stop the spread?

Mexico and Brazil have continued to take less severe lockdown measures than other Latin American countries.

Both have given out guidelines, but have not imposed national restrictions.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly downplayed the virus.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (C) attends a rally with supporters in BrasiliaImage copyrightEPA
Image captionPresident Bolsonaro still attends rallies with supporters
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Marcia Castro, a global health professor at Harvard University, says that “the response in Brazil is far from ideal, and currently there is a lack of a uniform message coming from the leadership at different levels.”

Other countries such as Argentina have imposed compulsory lockdowns.

And Prof Castro says it is, along with Uruguay, among the countries in the region for now able to manage the spread.

Peru has had one of the first and strictest national lockdowns in the region, but continues to see cases and deaths rise.

As cases rapidly rise in Chile, the government has announced a mandatory lockdown in the capital Santiago.

Chile has one of Latin America’s highest rates of testing – 21 tests per 1,000 people.

But testing across the region is significantly below other parts of the world.

Mexico has carried out 1.2 tests per 1,000 people, compared with almost 36 per 1,000 in the US.

Brazil also has a low testing rate, and a study by the University of São Paulo Medical School estimates the number of infections could be about 15 times higher than the official figure in the country.

President Bolsonaro wants to begin reopening Brazil’s borders despite increasing infections, but other Latin American governments have expressed worries that the worsening situation there could have ramifications across the region.

Graphics by Cecilia Tombesi

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