Aviso LatAm: COVID-19 March 12, 2021

​​​​​What You Should Know

  • International Women’s Day: On March 8, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa F. Etienne called for more women in leadership in the fight against COVID-19. “Women make up the great majority of health care workers. Indeed women are at the very heart of the response, yet women remain disproportionately underrepresented in national and global health leadership.”
  • Lost Decade: The pandemic will set Latin American economies back a decade due to rising inequality and poverty. A report by the UN Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) strongly urges governments to continue implementing social safety nets and to design a new social contract.
  • 700,000: On March 8, Latin America and the Caribbean surpassed 700,000 COVID-19 deaths. Globally, almost 2.26 million have died since the pandemic’s outbreak.
  • 118 Million: In a special #IWD2021 discussion hosted by the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, Ambassador Melanne Verveer highlighted that the pandemic will leave 118 million women and girls in poverty in the Americas and the Caribbean. Here are this week’s figures.

Health + Innovation

  • Chile: Since starting its COVID-19 inoculation campaign in early February, Chile has administered around 5 million vaccine doses. Over the past seven days, it administered an average of 1.08 doses per day per 100 inhabitants; over the same period, Israel administered 1.03 doses per day per 100 inhabitants.
  • COVAX: By May, PAHO will deliver 28.7 million COVID-19 vaccines doses to regional countries participating in the COVAX mechanism. Shipments are likely to begin arriving in mid-March.
  • Panama: During the week of March 1-7, Panama recorded the lowest percentage of positive cases since the pandemic’s outbreak, with 7,000 active cases. At the end of December 2020, by contrast, the country had more than 55,000 active cases.
  • Demonstrations: Protests broke out in Paraguay over slow vaccine rollouts amid surging COVID-19 infections. President Mario Abdo Benitez announced a cabinet reshuffle on March 6. In Argentina, citizens protested against stricter lockdown measures and alleged vaccine corruption scandals.
  • Amazon: Amid rising COVID-19 cases in the northern Amazon basin, PAHO is calling for swift government responses and an expansion of equitable vaccine access. For context, In Peru’s Loreto state, every ICU bed is occupied; Colombia’s Amazonas department is reporting the country’s highest COVID-19 rates.
  • Pfizer/BioNTech: The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was found to neutralize the highly-contagious P.1 COVID-19 variant, first detected in the Amazonas state of Brazil.
  • Brazil: On March 9, Brazil surpassed its daily record for new COVID-19 deaths with nearly 2,000 fatalities. The figure has been rising steadily over the past two weeks.

Economies in Focus

Multilateral Analysis

  • In a new annual study, CEPAL estimates that 22 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean fell below the poverty line in 2020. The organization estimates that 33.7 percent of the population is in poverty, with 12.5 percent in extreme poverty.  
  • A new brief from the Consortium of Humanitarian Organizations shows that the interruptions caused by the pandemic, tropical storms Amanda and Cristóbal and hurricanes Eta and Iota caused 8 million people to become food insecure in 2020. The organization warned the figure could increase if COVID-19 and unfavorable weather conditions continue to plague the region.
  • The OECD improved its forecasts for Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico predicting their economies would grow 4.6 percent, 3.7 percent, and 4.5 percent, respectively, in 2021. 

Economic Relief

  • The World Bank approved a $75 million grant for a new project in Haiti to help establish an adaptive safety net system against shocks, including the COVID-19 pandemic, and to reduce vulnerability to food insecurity and future disasters.
  • The Central American Bank for Economic Integration provided $4 million to Coopservidores, a Costa Rican bank, to support 150 small- and medium-sized firms.

Economic Impact

  • In the resort town of Los Cabos, Mexico, the Tourism Trust of Los Cabos (FITURCA) reported that 70 percent of tourists from June to December were repeat travelers, and on average, they stayed 25 percent longer. Travelers were also wealthier with 18.5 percent of tourists reporting an average income of over $200,000, a 3.5 percent increase.

Quarantines + Travel Restrictions

Quarantines + Reopenings

  • After a spike in cases, São Paulo governor João Doria announced that bars and restaurants would only be permitted to operate delivery services and malls and non-essential businesses would be closed.
  • In Peru, Lima and Callao imposed strict lockdown measures for March 7 to 14. Curfew will begin nightly at 9:00 p.m. and last until 4:00 a.m. A stay-at-home order is in effect on Sundays. 
  • Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes imposed a curfew from 11:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. from March 5 to 12.
  • Buenos Aires’ iconic Teatro Colon reopened its doors on March 5, with strict biosecurity measures.
  • The Chilean Congress extended the state of catastrophe until June 30, allowing the president to impose restrictions on movement, quarantines, and curfews to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The state of exception has been in place since March 18, 2020.

Border and travel restrictions

  • The CDC added Antigua and Barbuda and Curaçao to the “very high-risk” category for travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Seventeen Caribbean countries have been included under this category.
  • Buenos Aires province is considering imposing greater restrictions on its borders to prevent the entry of new COVID-19 strains. The proposal will be discussed at the next National Security meeting

In Focus: Brazil

  • The ICUs in 15 state capitals are reporting capacities of more than 90 percent, according to Fiocruz a research institution managed by the Brazilian Health Ministry. Since the pandemic began, the country has recorded over 268,000 deaths, the second highest death toll in the world. 
  • Fiocruz epidemiologist Jesem Orellana said that the fight against COVID-19 was lost and the country must hope for “the miracle of mass vaccination or a radical change in the management of the pandemic.” The Brazilian government is working to secure additional vaccines, announcing on March 8 that Brazil would buy 5 million doses from Pfizer for the first half of 2021. Brazil had negotiated the purchase of 545 million doses (enough to vaccinate its entire population) with multiple vaccine producers, but shipment delays have raised concerns.  
  • PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne highlighted the crisis in the Amazonian State of Acre, and said that “expanding equitable access to COVID vaccines in the Americas must be a global priority.”
  • Despite the increase in cases, President Jair Bolsonaro said he would not use the army to carry out lockdowns or restrict movement to halt the spread of COVID-19.

By the numbers

  • Cases by country: Brazil (11,125,017) #3 worldwide, Colombia (2,282,372) #11 worldwide, Argentina (2,162,001) #12 worldwide, Mexico (2,137,8840) #13 worldwide, Peru (1,380,023) #19 worldwide, Chile (867,949) #23 worldwide, Panama (345,759) #43 worldwide, Ecuador (295,114) #47 worldwide, Bolivia (255,621) #51 worldwide, Dominican Republic (244,168) #53 worldwide, Source: worldometers.info
  • Prevalence rate (total cases per million people: Panama (345,759) #11 worldwide, Aruba (8,177) #12 worldwide, Brazil (52,084) #38 worldwide, Argentina (47,537) #47 worldwide, Chile (45,138) #49 worldwide, Colombia (44,530) #51 worldwide, Peru (41,459) #56 worldwide, Costa Rica (40,544) #57 worldwide, Saint Martin (40,162) #58 worldwide, Belize (30,666) #70 worldwide, Source: worldometers.info
  • Deaths per capita (deaths per million people): Mexico (1,477) #17 worldwide, Peru (1,447) #19 worldwide, Panama (1,363) #23 worldwide, Brazil (1,257) #25 worldwide, Colombia (1,184) #28 worldwide, Argentina (1,171) #29 worldwide, Chile (1,103) #32 worldwide, Bolivia (1,006) #36 worldwide, Ecuador (901) #41 worldwide, Belize (785) #45 worldwide, Source: worldometers.info

Quick take