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New Coronavirus and Measures That Latin America Govts Have Taken

  • A man has his temperature measured because of the protocol for the new coronavirus.

    A man has his temperature measured because of the protocol for the new coronavirus. | Photo: EFE

Published 13 March 2020

In Latin America, countries that have disadvantages in their health systems compared to countries in Europe have been carrying out some precautionary measures, recommended in part by the WHO, to fight this new pandemic, which has created social chaos around the world.

The advance of the new coronavirus in Latin America alerted the governments of the region since already 17 countries have reported confirmed cases. Brazil is the country with the most infected so far but does not yet register deaths like Argentina, Ecuador, Panama, and Guyana.

WHO Characterizes COVID-19 as a Global Pandemic

After the World Health Organization (WHO) told the world about the decision to classify the proliferation of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) as a 'pandemic,' one of the issues that stood out was the concern about the "alarming level of inaction" by governments in the face of the epidemic.

Although most governments have maintained a discourse that points to the resolved confrontation of the phenomenon, the truth is that the high costs of tests and other treatments to confront the virus also revealed the vast differences that exist in the world in terms of social guarantees. 

In Latin America, countries that have disadvantages in their health systems compared to countries in Europe have been carrying out some precautionary measures, recommended in part by the WHO, to fight this new pandemic that has created social chaos around the world.

In Brazil, at least 98 confirmed cases have been registered, being also one of the first countries to confirm the virus in the region.

Although the insistence of the Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who refused to attach importance to the virus, on Thursday throughFacebook live accompanied by the health minister, recommended the care given by the WHO and, in fact, also recommended canceling a "Pro Bolsonaro" rally scheduled for Sunday.

In Brasilia, the capital, the central government adopted measures against the new coronavirus for five days, such as the suspension of classes and public events, as well as the obligation of bars and restaurants to separate tables by two meters.

In Argentina, according to the latest data, there are 34 confirmed cases. So far, there have been two deaths from the virus in the city of Buenos Aires, both victims over 60 years of age.

On Thursday, the government of Buenos Aires suspended mass gatherings, such as the Lollapalooza event.

In Ecuador, one of the first countries in the region that also confirmed the new coronavirus, the government announced budget cuts, cuts in public employee wages and debt to face the difficulties caused by the virus and the fall in oil prices. "The global coronavirus disease is creating an economic crisis around the world and has hit Ecuador hard," President Lenín Moreno said on radio and television, presenting a series of adjustments.

On Wednesday, the Ecuadorean government also declared a health emergency. It said that people arriving from the nations with the most significant number of cases should be in isolation from home.

Moreno said there would be restrictions on mass events and people gatherings and announced the "use of technological platforms in telemedicine, online education and teleworking, for those cases that merit it."

According to the latest data, 23 cases with the new coronavirus have been confirmed in the country meanwhile on Friday afternoon the government confirmed the first deceased patient, a 71-year-old woman.

In Chile, confirmed cases linked to Spain and Italy, two of the European nations most affected by the new coronavirus, have motivated authorities to determine that people entering from those two countries would remain in isolation for 14 days.

This measure will be monitored by health authorities, who will follow up on the cases until the isolation lifted according to the protocol established for travelers considered high risk.

In Mexico, the government shielded finances and the economy from the global new coronavirus crisis and the international war on oil prices, said the head of the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (SCHP), Arturo Herrera.

Herrera said that the federal administration had taken steps to defend the national economy, thus ruling out more significant damage to state resources. "It is to build public finances that are designed on a framework of extraordinary caution, that is, it is trying to keep the economy shielded from adverse scenarios," he said.

The country has so far confirmed 26 people infected throughout the country.

In Cuba, the Ministry of Public Health reported on Thursday the confirmation of a new case that joins the three Italian tourists who were confirmed on Wednesday.

The Cuban government activated all the conditions and capabilities of its health system for prevention and surveillance to contain the expansion of the new coronavirus. One policy is to monitor airports for travelers from nine nations: China, Italy, Iran, Japan, South Korea, France, Germany, and the United States.

In Venezuela, the first two cases of coronavirus corresponding to two people who visited Europe and the United States were confirmed this Friday.

The spokesperson of the Bolivarian Government required all people who shared Iberia flight number 6673 on March 5 and 8, to enter a mandatory preventive quarantine.

For her part, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez announced the government's decision to suspend classes from Monday, March 16, as well as asking people 70 years and older to stay home as long as they can.

Rodriguez also reminded Venezuelans that they must avoid large gatherings, as well as large-scale activities.

Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro declared a state of alarm throughout the country and ordered schools to close until further notice on Friday afternoon.

For their part, the governments of countries such as Costa Rica (26 cases), Paraguay (7 cases), Jamaica (1 case) and Honduras (2 cases) have also announced prevention measures to deal with the COVID-19​​​​​​​, such as the cancellation of massive events such as concerts, religious and political gatherings, and indoor activities like cinemas or theaters for at least the next two weeks.

Panama and Guyana have confirmed the death of their first citizen due to the COVID-19​​​​​​​, and both governments have advised avoiding public meetings, trips, and the suspension of classes.

On Friday night, Colombian President Ivan Duque announced through his Twitter account the closure of all border crossings with Venezuela.

He also said that "as of March 16 entry is restricted to non-nationals and non-residents in Colombia who have been in Europe and Asia for the past 14 days." 

Colombia has confirmed 16 cases of new coronavirus.

The de-facto government of Bolivia also reported on Friday night that the number of cases of COVID-19 rose to 10 and that it is already contagions that occurred within the country. Given this, they announced that they would reinforce some containment measures, although the actions that have been carried out so far mainly lacked strategies to attend to those infected and suspected with the virus.

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