Coronavirus cases have been rising sharply in many Latin American countries, causing increasing concern to regional health authorities. Brazil has more than 250,000 confirmed cases – the third highest in the world, as reflected in the John Hopkins stats. Other countries in the region, including Mexico, Chile and Peru, are also struggling to contain major outbreaks.
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 500,000 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.
Mexico and Brazil, have seen the highest number of deaths, more than 6,000 and 18,000 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 almost 100,000 confirmed – more than China.
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. Unlike in the US and most countries in Europe, many countries in Latin America are seeing their daily cases and deaths increase.
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.
Mexico and Brazil have continued to take less severe lockdown measures than other Latin American countries. Both have given guidelines but have not imposed national restrictions. Other countries such as Argentina have imposed compulsory lockdowns, while Uruguay, for now, seems to be able to manage the spread of the Covid19.
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.
With the U.S. unlikely to recover this year, the global luxury industry has been relying on China, despite its slow pace. Before the pandemic, most of the wealthy consumers in key luxury markets such in South America such as Colombia, Chile and Brazil would mostly shop abroad, the primary destination being Miami, especially because of proximity, followed by the Paris, Barcelona and Milan because of very competitive flight fares and exemption of visas.
As the crisis deepens, it is uncertain to what extent they may be able to shop online, most of the international luxury brands using Miami as a hub, including warehouses. Fewer luxury brands have shifted their regional operations control towards Brazil. Before the outbreak of the pandemic, for the major European cities but also winter resorts, the Latin American markets had been growing as a source market for luxury hotels and resorts.
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