COVID-19 continues to tear through Latin America

COVID-19 continues to tear through Latin America
  • Clock-gray 08:30
  • calendar-gray 04 June 2020

BOGOTA, Colombia

About 70 days into the coronavirus pandemic, cases keep rising in Latin America and the Caribbean.  

Brazil has surpassed Spain, the UK and Russia as the country with the second-highest number of infections in the world.  

More than 55,000 people have died across the region. Some countries like Brazil and Mexico are beginning to open up their economies while seeing the capacity of their health systems overwhelmed. Peru and Chile are still seeing higher rates of infection while Venezuela’s president is engaging in joint efforts with the opposition to combat the virus.  

Brazil 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday officially appointed Army General Eduardo Pazuello, who does not have any experience in health issues, as interim health minister. 

Brazil has gone 19 days without a health minister so far. Bolsonaro suggested that he does not plan to appoint a permanent replacement for Nelson Teich, the second health minister who resigned. 

Pazuello has been acting as the ministry's head since Teich stepped down on May 15 after clashing with Bolsonaro over the country’s coronavirus strategy. 

On Tuesday, Bolsonaro called demonstrators who recently protested against his government "terrorists" and "outsiders." His remarks, made before a small group of supporters outside his official residence, were made public Wednesday after they were released in a YouTube video. 

Bolsonaro has lost a lot of support for his handling of the pandemic in sectors that helped him come to power. As of Wednesday, at least 31,199 people had died in the country from the virus. 

Venezuela 

The Venezuelan government of President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido have reached an agreement to raise funds for the fight against the coronavirus.  

According to Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez, together they will coordinate efforts to seek financial resources to combat the pandemic with help from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). 

The one-page agreement between Health Minister Carlos Alvarado and infectious disease expert Julio Castro, who represented the opposition, was signed on June 1, Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said Tuesday on television. 

"Both parties propose to work in a coordinated manner...in the search for financial resources that will contribute to the strengthening of the country's response capabilities to deal with the health emergency," said Rodríguez while reading the text of the agreement. 

Washington welcomed the agreement. 

"It is an important step, but only democratic transition will save Venezuela from catastrophe," the US embassy in Caracas said on Twitter.

Venezuela has 1,819 reported COVID-19 cases and 18 related deaths.

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