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Covid-19 in Latin America

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Here is an rational and unbiased update on the status of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Latin America as of March 10th, 2020

Argentina

  • On March 7, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to announce a death related to the virus after a 64-year-old man died in Buenos Aires.
  • The first case was confirmed on March 3, involving a 43-year-old Argentine man who returned home from a two-week trip to Milan, Italy. The carrier presented himself to the hospital in Buenos Aires, where he was quarantined. Authorities said they contacted passengers who traveled on the same flight for examination.
  • President Alberto Fernández’s immediate response to the confirmation of a first case was to tell Argentines “shouldn’t get alarmed [but] should be conscious.” The country’s health minister said the government is monitoring the situation domestically and internationally but did not take immediate measures such as closing schools or cancelling incoming flights from abroad. 
  • On March 5, the City of Buenos Aires government’s health ministry established a free number where epidemiologists attend to callers who may suspect they have symptoms. 
  • China is Argentina’s second-biggest export destination and the outbreak is already hitting trade. For example, 75 percent of Argentina’s beef exports go to the Asian county, and the value of these exports to China dropped 33.4 percent from December to January. 

Brazil

Chile

  • On March 3, Chile confirmed its first case, which involved a 33-year-old man in Talca, south of Santiago. The doctor, who had travelled to Asia, is quarantined in his home. 
  • President Sebastián Piñera said his government will send a delegation of four medical specialists to China to learn about that country’s control measures since the government first notified the WHO of the virus’ appearance in the Wuhan province on December 31. 
  • Chile also led a videoconference with all members of the regional bloc Prosur to discuss regional cooperation and urge joint efforts to mitigate the effects of a regional outbreak. Bolivia and Uruguay, though not members of the bloc, also participated.
  • The country’s health ministry implemented a sworn declaration of health form to be completed by all passengers arriving from abroad to Chile, as well as a sanitary control measure in which passengers will be screened for the virus upon arrival to Chile from high-risk locations. 
  • Chile’s finance minister says the economic impact of the outbreak will be limited, even though China—its top trading partner—is the destination for a third of Chilean exports. Per Reuters, Citibank economists bumped Chile to the top of a vulnerability index due to how the coronavirus can hit supply chains and commodities, as well as market volatility.

Colombia

  • Colombia’s Health Ministry confirmed the country’s first case on March 6, involving a 19-year-old woman who returned to Bogotá from Milan. The carrier was in contact with at least 16 other people, who have been placed under observation.
  • President Iván Duque was tested for the virus after possible exposure during a trip to Washington DC, where he joined an event also attended by people who had been exposed to a carrier of the virus. The president tested negative.
  • The Colombian government changed the country’s risk status from moderate to high four days prior to the first case’s confirmation, and urged for the intensification of prevention methods, such as biosecurity measures and appropriate equipment for health personnel.
  • On March 7, Duque announced that the government would launch a mobile app to keep Colombians up to date about the virus, along with a series of measures such as creating a phone line available to the public and reviewing processes at airports.
  • Colombia’s peso reached a new low next to the dollar, and with China as Colombia’s third largest trading partner, Grupo Bancolombia said the outbreak could drag down Colombia’s GDP growth by up to 0.35 percent.

Costa Rica

Dominican Republic

Ecuador

Mexico

Paraguay

Panama

  • A 40-year-old Panamanian woman became the country’s first confirmed case of coronavirus, Panama’s Ministry of Health and President Laurentino Cortizo announced on March 9. The patient displayed symptoms of the virus after a March 8 return from Spain and was then tested and quarantined in her home.  
  • After the first case, Minister of Health Rosario Turner announced that Panama would move into a mitigation phase to prevent the virus from spreading locally, including heightened restrictions at Panama’s ports of entry and exit. Prior to the arrival of the virus, Panama’s Ministry of Health prepared safety protocols due to confirmed cases in neighboring Costa Rica and Colombia. These include streamlined testing within prisons, daycare centers, and nursing homes.
  • In January 29, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) instituted stronger safety measures, largely in response to a worsening health crisis in China—a primary users of the waterway. These measures include requiring ships that docked in countries with confirmed cases to report them prior to their arrival in Panama. Given that 6 percent of global trade passes through the Canal, financial analysts warn that Panama will feel the impact as the virus continues to affect trade. 

Peru

For further updates visit Americas Society Council of the Americas