Coronavirus increases in Latin America as deaths exceed 100,000

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The death toll in Latin America from the coronavirus pandemic surpassed 100,000 on Tuesday, according to a Reuters count, with little sign that the outbreak is easing in a region marked by crowded cities and high levels of poverty.

FILE PHOTO: The faithful of the Afro-Brazilian religion attend the funeral of a person, who died for unknown reasons during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Sao Francisco Xavier cemetery in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil, May 1, 2020. Photograph taken on May 1, 2020. REUTERS / Ian Cheibub / File Photo

Latin America has seen an alarming rise in cases and deaths, even as the tide of infection recedes in Europe and parts of Asia. The number of infections, at 2.2 million, has doubled in less than a month.

Brazil, the largest and most populous nation in Latin America, this week became the second country to reach the milestone of 50,000 deaths, after the United States. Mexico posted a new one-day record for confirmed infections Tuesday.

According to experts, the real scale of coronavirus damage in Latin America is likely to be much deeper, as countries in the region have not implemented rigorous testing programs. Many officials acknowledge that the death toll is likely to be much higher.

Hugo López-Gatell, Mexico’s deputy minister of health and the country’s coronavirus tsar, said Tuesday that his nation is in a long battle against the coronavirus.

“We must learn to live with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and permanently incorporate hygiene and prevention practices into the new reality,” said López-Gatell, urging Mexican society to adapt its response to the threat.

In addition to crunchy health systems in many countries in the region, Latin America’s battle against the virus has been hampered by widespread poverty and many workers living in the informal sector that have hampered quarantine efforts.

Regional heavyweight leaders Brazil and Mexico have also been punished for not taking the virus seriously enough and for pressing for the reopening of their economies before the virus has been domesticated.

A Brazilian judge on Tuesday ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to wear a mask in public after the right-wing populist attended political rallies without one amid the world’s second worst coronavirus outbreak.

Brazil recorded an additional 1,374 deaths Tuesday from the virus and 39,436 new cases, bringing the death toll from the new coronavirus to 52,000 people in Latin America’s largest economy. More than 1.1 million have been infected.

Mexico, the most affected nation in the region after Brazil in overall numbers, recorded 6,288 new infections and 793 additional deaths on Tuesday. That brought the totals for the country to 191,410 cases and 23,377 deaths.

The virus also appears to be on the rise in Central America, where Guatemala registered more than 700 new infections on Tuesday for the first time. An additional 35 deaths were recorded in Guatemala, with a total of 582 deaths.

Written by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Kim Coghill

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