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News > World

COVID-19 Updates: Latin American Cases Rise, Isolation Reigns

  • More than 1,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Latin America, prompting several countries to shut down borders.

    More than 1,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Latin America, prompting several countries to shut down borders. | Photo: EFE

Published 17 March 2020

The latest Covid-19 news from the Global South and around the world on Tuesday:

Update 10:19 pm.

The IMF rejects Venezuela's Request for US$5 Billion to Fight Coronavirus

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) rejected Tuesday Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's request for US$5 billion emergency funds in order to fight the coronavirus pandemic in the Latin American country.

Update 10:10 pm.

Colombia declares state of emergency over coronavirus crisis

Colombia’s President Ivan Duque declared Tuesday a state of emergency as the country intensifies measures to counter the coronavirus spreading in Latin America. Among the measures was an order for the elderly to stay home until the end of May starting Friday.

“To protect our grandparents we have declared an obligatory isolation starting Friday March 20 from seven o’clock in the morning until May 31,” Duque said.

“All adults older than 70 must remain in their homes except to buy groceries and medicines, use health services, and access financial services.”

Seventy-five people ​​​​​have been infected in Colombia so far, most of them after stays in Europe or the United States. No deaths have been reported.

Update 10:05 pm.

Brazil seeking state of emergency to tackle virus

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro said Tuesday that his government asked Congress to authorize a state of emergency that would allow it to scrap fiscal targets and free up funds to combat the virus’ spread.

"In view of the permanent monitoring of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to increase public spending to protect the health and jobs of Brazilians and the prospect of falling revenues, the Federal Government will request the National Congress to recognize the state of emergency," Bolsonaro's office said in a statement.

Update 8:43 pm.

South Korea reports 93 new cases

South Korea reported 93 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing its total infections to 8,413, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. 

Update 8:40 pm.

Thirteen new cases and 11 deaths in China

China's National Health Commission released its latest data on the outbreak there. 13 new confirmed cases were reported, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China to 80,894, the health authority said in a statement.

Update 8:33 pm.

WHO calls for "aggressive" action in south-east Asia

As contaminations expanded across ​​​​​​​south-east Asia in recent weeks, concerns are increasing that weak public health care systems in some countries will impede an adequate response to the outbreak.

The World Health Organization called for “aggressive” action in the region to combat the spread of the disease, warning that some countries were heading towards community transmission of the virus.

Update 8:00 pm.​​​​​​​

Brazil's Bolsonaro says second coronavirus test is negative

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro confirmed Tuesday night that the second coronarivus test he underwent ​​​​​was negative. The announcement came as the South American country reported Tuesday its first death due to COVID-19.


Update 7:40 pm.

Venezuela's Vice President announces measures against COVID-19 threat

Venezuela's Vice President Delcy Rodriguez announced Tuesday a collective quarantine as three cases were detected in the capital Caracas.

Rodriguez said the subway and railway system will only be open for workers from priority sectors and that a national deployment of the Local Committees for Supply and Production (CLAP) will be held to provide food support to all families starting Wednesday.

The total number of coronavirus cases in Venezuela is now 33, with no deaths reported so far.​​​​​​


Update 7:40 pm.

Death toll reaches more than 100 people in the United States (U.S.)

Death toll in the U.S. has reached 108, Johns Hopkins University reported. The number of infections in the country is now 6,423 as the pandemic has been reported in every state.

Update 7:00 pm.

The number of infections is rising in Argentina

Argentina reported Tuesday its highest single-day rise in COVID-19 cases. The South Amerian country which decided yesterday to put travel bans in place, has now 14 new cases, with 12 corresponding to recent arrivals from abroad.

The total number of infected people is now 79 while two deaths have been reported so far.

Update 6:19 pm.

Coronavirus cases now registered in every state in the United States (U.S.)

All of the 50 U.S. states in the U.S. have now reported at least one case of the new coronavirus infection.

Update 5:38 pm.

Australia's government announces six months of isolation measures

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison presented Tuesday his set of measures to combat the spread of the COVID-19 disease, as the island country registered 452 confirmed cases and five deaths.

The measures consist of at least six months of daily life restrictions. Morrison advised Australians not to gather in groups of more than 100, declared a human biosecurity emergency and told people they should not travel abroad.

Update: 3:30 pm.

Brazil confirms first death

As South America's most populous nation confirmed its first death Tuesday, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro slammed what he called a "hysteria" over the pandemic.

The cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro declared a state of exception in an attempt to control the spread of the virus and protect people, but President Bolsonaro condemned the measures saying the economy would be hurt. 

Update: 3:30 pm.

St.Lucia’s Prime Minister tested for COVID-19 after presenting symptoms

The PM of St.Lucia Allen Chastanet self-quarantined after feeling unwell. He has been tested for coronavirus and the results are still pending.

Update: 3:19 pm.

China approves a coronavirus vaccine for tests

A COVID-19 vaccine developed by a medical team in China has been approved for the tests stage, according to local media.

Update: 3:16 pm.

Trump calls coronavirus 'Chinese Virus,' sparks outrage

The president of the United States, Donald Trump, has been repeatedly criticized for referring to the coronavirus as the "Chinese Virus" with critics saying he is fueling racism and putting U.S. citizens of Asian descent at risk.

Trump's provocation came after tensions between China and the U.S. rose with each country blaming the other over the origins of the virus, despite the World Health Organization's warning not to link the disease to a particular area or community in order to avoid stigmatization. 

Update: 3:06 pm.

EURO 2020 postponed 

The Euro 2020 football tournament will be delayed for a year due to the pandemic.

"Postponed until 11/6- 11/7 2021. Will get back to you after the meeting," Swedish FA chairman Karl-Erik Nilsson told Reuters.

Update: 2:15 pm.

UN suspends resettlement for refugees

The United Nations said it would temporarily suspend resettlements for refugees who had been approved to be resettled in third countries.

"As countries drastically reduce entry into their territories owing to the COVID-19 global health crisis, and restrictions around international air travel are introduced, travel arrangements for resettling refugees are currently subject to severe disruptions," the UNHCR and IOM said in a statement.

Update: 2:15 pm.

EU imposes entry ban

German chancellor Angela Merkel announced that the European Union will impose an entry ban on travelers from outside the bloc to fight the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

Update: 1:00 pm.

Italy: death toll rises to 2,503

The Civil Protection chief Angelo Borrelli reported that 345 people died in the last 24 hours, which increased the number of deaths to 2,503 deaths.

In this European country the number of positive cases amounts to 26,062 people, 2,941 of whom have been discharged.

Since the end of February, the number of total infections since the outbreak was detected at the end of February is 31,506, counting the positives, deaths, and discharges.

US: Amazon suspends storage of non-essential products

Amazon will suspend until April 5 the storage of non-essential products in its warehouses to give priority to essential goods during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although non-essential products will continue to be sold through its portal, they could be sold out more quickly since they will not be stored at the company's facilities.

The categories that Amazon considers essential to face the pandemic are products for babies, sanitary ware, articles for health, beauty and personal care; foods; industrial and scientific goods; and pet supplies.

To respond to the sharp increase in online shopping, Amazon announced that it will hire 100,000 workers in the U.S. and increase the wages of warehouse and distribution personnel.

The firm has acknowledged that it is suffering delays in the shipment of products due to the high demand in recent days caused by the crowds in physical stores.

Update: 11:30

WHO: Europe must make more effort to stop the pandemic

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Office for Europe Hans Kluge warned that European countries must double or triple their efforts to stop the Covid-19 spread through "a package" of measures, which should include an aggressive search for undetected cases, diagnoses, quarantines, increased hospital capacity, and social mobilization.

Europe is currently the main global focus of Covid-19, a disease that has affected almost 29,000 people in Italy, 9,000 in Spain, 5,400 in France, and 4,900 in Germany.

The WHO is attentive to the risk of disruption in the supply of essential medical materials, in particular antibiotics, treatments for diabetes and hypertension, and drugs for HIV.


Brazil: Bolsonaro to Be Denounced for Risking the Population

On Monday, the WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus asked countries to perform diagnostic tests on all people suspected of being sick with Covid-19.

The WHO expert Richard Pebody, however, said that each country faces a different situation and that some can only test the most serious cases at the moment.

Although the WHO has distributed 1.5 million Covid-19 tests, some countries may require up to tens of thousands of tests daily.

On the different mortality rates seen in Europe -2,158 deaths for 27,980 cases in Italy, compared to 12 for 4,838 in Germany-, Pebody maintained that "there is still no clear explanation."

However, the differences can be found in the proportion of older people in a given country and the capacities of the national health system.

While the Dutch government said part of its population will be immunized against the coronavirus after this outbreak, WHO emergency coordinator Dorit Nitzan maintains that this view is controversial because no one knows the nature of the new virus.

"We don't know if it is a virus that generates immunity or if it is changing like the flu," she said, recalling that the flu virus mutates, so populations are not immune from year to year.

Update: 10:30

France: public deficit will rise to 3.9 percent due to the pandemic

France's Public Action and Accounts Minister Geral Darmanin Tuesday estimated that the Covid-19 pandemic will generate a fiscal deficit equivalent to 3.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and a 1 percent reduction in production growth in 2020.

Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire announced that his government will disburse more than US$49 billion to finance policies to counter the decline in economic activity.

France will establish a "solidarity fund" of about US$2 billion for small businesses whose revenues have declined by 70 percent or more in the last month.

Ecuador: Authorities confirm 111 Covid-19 cases

The Risk Management Secretary Alexandra Ocles Tuesday announced that the number of Covid-19 cases has increased to 111. The people affected are in the provinces of Guayas, Pichincha, Los Rios, Azuay, Morona Santiago, El Oro, Sucumbios, and Manabi.

On Monday night, Quito Mayor Jorge Yunda established strong restrictions on people's mobility in the country's capital. On Tuesday he specified that if a person misuses safeguards, which were enabled for those who perform specific social functions, the offender will face up to three years in prison and a fine of US$6,000.

So far, in this Andean country, two Covid-19 patients have died and 51 patients have been discharged.

Update: 9:00

European Union Works to Bring Its Ex-Pats Back

The European Union (EU), which is working so that European citizens can return from abroad in the current circumstances of border restrictions, has agreed with Morocco that repatriation flights from there will continue until March 19.


Chile’s Communist Mayor to Import Cuban Meds to Fight COVID-19

On Monday, Austria activated the European Civil Protection Mechanism (ECPM) and requested consular assistance to support the repatriation process for Austrians and other EU citizens from Marrakech, in Morocco. An Austrian plane landed in Vienna on Tuesday repatriating 290 citizens.

Euro-Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic indicated that the ECPM now has "a service 24 hours a day 7 days a week" from the Emergency Response Coordination Center, which has facilitated the repatriation of over 800 European citizens from China, Japan, the U.S., and Morocco.

Croatia: fines of up to 5,493 for those who disregard quarantine

Croatia will strengthen monitoring of compliance with quarantines for people infected with, or suspected of being infected with, the coronavirus.

Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic reported on 573 complaints about alleged violations of home quarantine, 93 of which were confirmed as true.

He indicated that fines for contempt of confinement order will amount to US$1,099 and if the offender violates the order a second time, the fine will be US$5,493.

The Zagreb Infectious Clinic head Fran Mihaljevic said that violating quarantine amounts to being a potential killer.

"It's like walking around with a gun... You potentially carry a contagion with which you can kill another human being," she stressed.

In Croatia, a country of four million inhabitants, there are 65 Covid-19 confirmed cases so far.

EU launches new tender to jointly buy respirators

The European Commission announced on Tuesday that it will launch a new tender for the joint purchase of assisted breathing devices for a "large number" of the EU countries interested in participating in the operation due to the impact of Covid-19 on their health systems.

Twenty States participated in the first joint purchase tender for masks and other types of protective equipment. The new acquisition process will include more respiratory and eye protection products.

The lack of respirators, ICU beds, and other health protection materials is one of the obstacles that European national health systems face in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, a disease that has respiratory difficulties among its main symptoms.

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