Friday, February 26, 2021

Covid-19 rampages across South America, laying leaders low

Some estimates say the region is heading for a lost decade.

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The number of confirmed coronavirus deaths in Latin America passed 300,000 on Wednesday according to a Reuters tally, with the virus showing no signs of abating in the world’s worst-hit region.

The first confirmed case in Latin America was identified in Brazil in late February. Covid-19 has since spread to every country in the region, from central to south America.

The area passed the latest devastating milestone after Brazil, which has the highest death toll in the region, reported an additional 1,075 deaths to bring its coronavirus death tally to nearly 130,000.

Countries across Latin America, which has recorded close to eight million Covid-19 cases, are also battling a deep economic recession due to virus containment measures.

Mexico, Peru and Colombia have registered the highest number of coronavirus victims after Brazil.

Latin America, which has some 8% of the world’s population, accounts for close to 30% of global cases and fatalities, with infections still spreading fast.

Regional leaders like Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and Bolivia’s Jeanine Anez are struggling to hold on to their popularity as populations blame them for what they see as an inadequate response to the pandemic.

Bolsonaro and his wife have both had their own bout with the virus. He has been widely criticised in the country for his handling of the crisis, and has in the past sided with protesters against stay-at-home and quarantine orders.

Bolivia’s interim president Jeanine Áñez also fell victim to Covid-19.

According to government data, Chile has the highest rates of testing in Latin America. It has completed around 82 tests per 1,000 people so far. With cases surging, the government has tightened lockdowns.

Brazil and Mexico imposed fewer restrictions and lockdown measures than other Latin American countries and are now both suffering the consequences.

Around the region, already inadequate healthcare systems are straining or overloaded, while economic growth is set to plunge by at least 9%, pushing up poverty and unemployment.

As a result, some estimates say that the region is heading for a lost decade.

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