Aviso LatAm: COVID-19 October 22

What you should know

  • UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the world is failing to confront the global challenge presented by COVID-19. Guterres added that if coordinated measures are not taken, the virus could push millions into poverty and hunger. 
  • Despite having instituted one of the world’s longest lockdowns, Argentina surpassed one million cases on October 20 — the second country in the region to do so. Colombia, Mexico, and Peru are anticipated to reach the figure in the coming weeks.
  • Amid reopening plans, PAHO asked countries not to relax COVID-19 containment measures until vaccines become available, warning deaths could spike otherwise.

By the numbers

  • Cases by country: Brazil (5,274,817) #3 worldwide, Argentina (1,018,999) #6 worldwide, Colombia (974,139) #7 worldwide, Peru (874,118) #9 worldwide, Mexico (860,714) #10 worldwide, Chile (495,637) #14 worldwide.
  • Prevalence rate (total cases per million people): Aruba (40,737) #4 worldwide, Panama (29,004) #8 worldwide, Peru (26,400) #10 worldwide, Chile (25,860) #11 worldwide, Brazil (24,762) #14 worldwide, Argentina (22,484) #17 worldwide.
  • Deaths per capita (deaths per million people): Peru (1,023) #2 worldwide, Brazil (727) #6 worldwide, Bolivia (727) # 7 worldwide, Chile (716) #8 worldwide, Ecuador (700) #9 worldwide, Mexico (672) #11 worldwide.

Quarantine + reopening plans

Despite a recent rise in COVID-19 cases throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, many governments continue to move forward with reopening plans.

  • Chile will relax the nationwide curfew on October 25 to allow voters more time to participate in the national referendum that will determine whether a new constitution will be drafted. 
  • Ecuador will begin to hold Congressional sessions in person in November. Administrative personnel are expected to be the first to return to the office, while Congressional officials evaluate the possibility of holding semi-virtual sessions. 
  • Panamanian Health Minister Luis Francisco Sucre announced quarantine on Sundays will be lifted and beaches and spas will reopen beginning this weekend.  
  • On October 21, Havana did not register any new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours, for the first time since July. Nevertheless, the Cuban capital remains closed to tourism. 
  • On October 19, Venezuela reopened its beaches, spas, hotels, and lodges for tourism as well as some government agencies. The country will continue to implement seven days of strict quarantine measures followed by seven days of relaxed measures.

International travel restrictions

  • The US Department of Homeland Security announced that US land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed to non-essential travel until November 21. The measure was also announced by Canadian border authorities and Mexico’s foreign ministry. 
  • Costa Rica will accept tourists arriving by plane from any country beginning November 1, provided that travelers present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the flight. 
  • Panama will offer a COVID-19 test upon arrival at Tocumen International Airport for travelers who do not have a negative test carried out within 48 hours of the flight, a mandatory requirement. 
  • On October 17, El Salvador lifted restrictions prohibiting the entry of cargo from Costa Rica. The country also increased the amount of time cargo transporters could remain in the country from three to ten days. 
  • Caribbean islands are increasingly turning to cell phone apps to track people’s movement and to keep citizens and tourists up to date regarding the country’s COVID-19 protocols. Curacao, Grenada, Jamaica, and The Bahamas have all recently unveiled apps.

Economies in focus

Economic impact 

  • In August 2020, Colombia’s economy contracted 10.6 percent over the previous year according to new figures published by the country’s statistical agency.
  • Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said the economy would contract 4 percent this year and reiterated that the emergency public spending would not become a permanent subsidy.
  • Moody’s maintained Panama’s BAA1 investment-grade rating but revised its outlook from stable to negative, citing a deterioration in country’s fiscal and debt metrics.
  • Coffee output in Peru fell 10 percent this year due to low prices and shortages of migrant labor caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Mexican economy is expected to contract 9.9 percent in 2020; its outlook for 2021 was upgraded to 3.5 percent from 3 percent in July.

Economic relief

  • Mexican Finance Secretary Arturo Herrera spoke with IMF director Kristalina Georgieva about Mexico’s flexible credit line. The credit line, which has never been used, was approved last November.
  • Colombian President Iván Duque announced 12 new measures for the country’s economic reactivation, including a line of credit of approximately $104 million for small and medium firms. Bogotá mayor Claudia Lopez announced a social and economic support package for the city of Bogotá worth 3.4 billion.

Health + innovation

  • On October 21, Peru’s Ministry of Health approved the National Vaccination Plan against COVID-19, a three-phase immunization plan that would benefit 22.2 million citizens. The Ministry projected a budget of $835 million for 2020 and 2021 for the immunization plan. 
  • On October 19, São Paulo’s Butantan Institute announced Phase 3 testing of CoronaVac, a COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech, had proved to be safe so far among 9,000 volunteers. Butantan director Dimas Covas, however, said the result is preliminary and the vaccine’s effectiveness cannot be confirmed until the trial is completed on all 13,000 volunteers. 
  • On October 16, Mexico announced it would purchase approximately 34 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, if it is approved by regulators internationally. The government also committed to purchasing millions of doses from AstraZeneca and CanSino; in the best of cases, the vaccines would arrive in December.

Country Focus

  • Bolivia: On October 18, MAS candidate Luis Arce won Bolivia’s presidential election by a landslide. Arce inherits a dire economic situation and the world’s third highest per capita death rate from the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Chile: On the anniversary of the first wave of social protests in Chile, 25,000 people flooded the streets of Santiago. The protests first began over an increase in the metro fare but have since expanded to included demands to reform the country’s pension, education, and healthcare systems. 
  • Colombia: According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, there were 242 attacks on Colombian medical workers between January and September. 
  • Haiti: On October 17, anti-government protesters blocked roads and set fires in Port-au-Price. Protests began last October in response to corruption charges against President Jovenel Moïse. Many Haitians have criticized the government’s pandemic response for having done too little to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and for having offered insufficient economic support. 

By the numbers (continued)

  • Cases by country (continued): Ecuador (154,114), Bolivia (140,037), Panama (125,739), Dominican Republic (121,973), Guatemala (102,219), Costa Rica (97,922), Honduras (90,232), Source: worldmeters.info
  • Prevalence rate (continued): Costa Rica (19,169), Colombia (19,083), Saint Martin (13,663), Bolivia (11,947), Dominican Republic (11,210), Honduras (9,067), Ecuador (8,695), Source: worldmeters.info
  • Deaths per capita (continued): Argentina (598), Panama (596), Colombia (573), Bahamas (322), Aruba (318), Honduras (259), Costa Rica (239), Source: worldmeters.info

Quick take