Aviso LatAm: COVID-19 September 25

What you should know

  • As of September 24, Latin America and the Caribbean remains the most affected region in the world by COVID-19 – home to over 8.85 million infections and eleven of the fifteen countries with the world’s highest death rates.
  • On September 23, Pan American Health Organization Director Dr. Claudia Etienne called attention to PAHO’s collaboration with several multilateral organizations to provide governments with biomedical equipment, lab tests, and PPE. Dr. Etienne previously warned that the virus will continue to spread even as a vaccine becomes available and that countries must continue to implement public health measures to minimize the spread of the virus.
  • On September 21, Mexico surpassed 700,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases with Mexico City and the surrounding suburbs being the hardest-hit areas. All states are currently in phase two or three of the government reopening plan. Mexico is now #7 worldwide in terms of total number of COVID-19 cases.

By the numbers

  • Cases by country: Brazil (4,595,355) #3 worldwide, Colombia (777,537) #5 worldwide, Peru (776,546) #6 worldwide, Mexico (705,263) #7 worldwide, Argentina (652,174) #10 worldwide, Chile (448,523) #12 worldwide
  • Prevalence rate (total cases per million people): Aruba (34,294) #3 worldwide, Panama (24,777) #5 worldwide, Peru (23,478) #7 worldwide, Chile (23,417) #8 worldwide, Brazil (21,584) #11 worldwide, Turks and Caicos (17,304) #16 worldwide
  • Deaths – total reported in the region: Brazil (138,159) #2 worldwide, Mexico (74,348) #4 worldwide, Peru (31,586) #7 worldwide, Colombia (24,570) #11 worldwide, Argentina (13,952) #14 worldwide, Chile (12,321) #15 worldwide

Quarantine + reopening plans

Some countries in the region maintained restrictive measures; others continued their reopening plans.

  • Argentina extended vehicular circulation restrictions until October 11 and recommended provinces increase biosecurity measures in cities most impacted by the virus.
  • Peruvian Prime Minister Walter Martos announced that the fourth stage of economic reactivation would begin in October allowing bars, gyms, and theaters to open along with the resumption of international flights.
  • Grupo Aeroméxico, Mexico’s largest airline operator, will increase international flights by 30 percent in October.
  • The Honduran National Risk Management System (SINAGER) continues to evaluate whether to initiate a second phase of reopening on September 28. Currently 60 restaurants have begun operations as part of two pilot projects to analyze the efficacy of biosecurity measures.
  • On September 22, Guatemalan Minister of Economy Antonio Malouf presented a reactivation plan for the economy. The plan focuses on attracting more strategic investment, recovering and generating new jobs, and stimulating the consumption of goods and services.
  • Admiral Craig Faller, head of the US Southern Command, arrived in Kingston, Jamaica, on September 24 to present the government with a $753,000 mobile field hospital for COVID-19 patients that will add to Jamaica’s 350-bed capacity. At the Atlantic Council, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson-Smith stated that Jamaica is  the first country in the Caribbean to be granted a safe travel stamp by the World Travel and Tourism Council and the World Trade Organization because it established a tourism-resilient corridor.

International travel restrictions

  • Colombia resumed international flights on September 19 after a six-month suspension. Colombia will accept flights from Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States, although passengers must present a negative COVID-19 test performed within 96 hours of flight departure.
  • A number of Central American countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, reopened international flights over the last week. Additional health and safety measures have been put in place and flights are limited.
  • On September 19, Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele warned airlines that foreigners and Salvadorans must present a negative COVID-19 test to enter the country or the government would be obligated to close the airport, hours after a Constitutional Court ruling eliminated the requirement.   
  • On September 18, Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf announced the US, Canadian, and Mexican land borders would remain closed to nonessential travel.  Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, confirmed the news a day earlier.
  • On September 22, the Argentine National Administration of Civil Aviation (ANAC) formally notified airlines that domestic and international flights would be suspended until October 12, despite previous comments by multiple ministers saying flights would resume on October 1.
  • ​​​​​Three major international airlines will be returning to Grenada next month in what is likely to be a major turning point for the tourism industry. Weekly flights are set to resume the first eight days of October, and Sandals Hotel, the all-inclusive property, is set to reopen on October 1.
  • The Aruba Tourism Authority has launched the “One Happy Workation program, in collaboration with various accommodations, inviting US citizens to the island to “work from paradise and experience living like a local.” The program allows visitors to reside in Aruba for three months. The primary requirements are to have a valid US passport and be employed.

Economies in focus

Economic impact 

  • Moody’s estimates that the Mexican economy will grow 3.7 percent in 2021 despite predictions that Mexico’s tourism sector will not return to pre-COVID levels until 2023.
  • Fitch Ratings warned recent capital controls announced by the Central Bank of Argentina will create new obstacles for corporate issuers and increase the risk that companies will refinance.
  • New figures show Colombia’s economy contracted by 9.6 percent in July, which, while negative, marks a slight recovery since contracting 20 percent in April.
  •  Confidence in the Brazilian industrial sector increased by 8.9 points, reaching its highest level in eight years, highlighting the strong recovery of the sector after the COVID-19 restrictions nearly brought the industry to a halt.
  •  At the end of August 2020, the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago noted gross official reserves amounted to $7.4 million (8.8 months of import cover), which was $513 million higher than the end of 2019.

Economic relief

  • Colombian President Iván Duque announced that the tourism sector would continue to benefit from a reduction in the VAT tax from 19 percent to 5 percent until next year; however, he noted such reforms will need Congressional approval. 

Health + innovation

  •  Peru faces the highest fatality rate in the world in terms of total population and despite extended social distancing measures.
  •  Peru recently announced that it had reached an agreement with BioNTech and Pfizer for the company to deliver 4.95 million vaccines to the country once the vaccine is available. Peru will also receive 13 million doses of a vaccine through the COVAX vaccine sharing mechanism.
  • On September 19, Brazil announced that it will temporarily slash import taxes on COVID-19 vaccines and other products related to the virus. Many countries have temporarily reduced or suspended import taxes on medical supplies and drugs. 
  • Those living in Brazil’s favelas are 10 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those living in wealthier neighborhoods. While over 20 percent of favela residents surveyed had experienced COVID-19 symptoms, only 1.4 percent of those with symptoms had been tested.

A Message from PhRMA: Today, there are several promising vaccine candidates in stage three clinical trials. These trials have tens of thousands of participants, from every walk of life. From development to robust clinical trials, and throughout manufacturing, these vaccine candidates follow the same rigorous process of other vaccines that have saved millions of lives. More.

Country Focus

  • Brazil: Thus far, over 2.9 million hectares of Brail’s Pantanal, one of the world’s largest tropical wetlands, have burned in 2020. In a virtual speech to the United Nations, President Jair Bolsonaro blamed indigenous peoples for the fires and attacked the media for a campaign of misinformation.
  • Bolivia: Interim President Jeanine Áñez announced she would withdraw from the October 18 presidential elections to avoid splitting the opposition vote. MAS candidate Luis Arce currently leads the vote with 40.3 percent according to the latest polls.
  • Colombia: Protests in Bogota resumed after a six-month hiatus due to COVID-19. On September 21, protestors challenging the Duque administration’s economic and social policies were joined by demonstrators speaking out against police brutality after the killing of Javier Órdoñez on September 9.

By the numbers (continued)

  • Cases by country (continued): Bolivia (131,453), Ecuador (127,643), Dominican Republic (109,269), Panama (107,284), Guatemala (86,623), Honduras (72,306), Venezuela (68,453), Source: worldmeters.info
  • Prevalence rate (continued): Colombia (15,244), Argentina (14,400), Costa Rica (13,064), Bolivia (11,227), Dominican Republic (10,050), Bahamas (8,797), Saint Martin (8,502), Source: worldometers.info
  • Deaths (continued): Ecuador (11,126), Bolivia (7,693), Guatemala (3,137), Panama (2,285), Honduras (2,206), Dominican Republic (2,064), El Salvador (819), Source: worldometers.info

Quick take