LA PAZ – Several Latin American countries will resume some activities next week to cope with the economic effects of the new coronavirus pandemic despite the fact that the rate of infections continues to rise.
The Bolivian government approved the return of public transport and a large part of economic and labor activities starting Monday after 70 days of quarantine. However, schoolwork and entertainment will remain suspended, borders will continue to be closed, and international flights restricted.
“We have lived in quarantine but it has not worked. Now people need to work to eat, ”complained Mario Suárez, mayor of Trinidad, capital of the Beni department. In that city of 140,000 inhabitants, the funeral services have denounced the lack of wood to make coffins.
Beni and Santa Cruz, the regions hardest hit by the pandemic, will remain in quarantine. Most of the 8,387 cases registered in the country are concentrated in these two regions, where medical services are at the top or have already been exceeded. Until Saturday, in addition, Bolivia had registered 293 deaths.
Mexico is also preparing to return gradually to activities after 10 weeks of quarantine on Monday, but in practice only the state of Zacatecas, in the center of the country, will be able to do so because the rest remain at a “red light”, that is, who must maintain social isolation.
This “red light” implies that only essential activities are allowed. However, on Monday mining, automotive, aerospace and construction companies that have validated their biosafety protocols with the government will be able to operate. The return to classes will be delayed at least until August 10 but only if the states have reached the “green traffic light” and do so under certain measures such as the mandatory use of mouth masks and the alternation of students according to the surname, so each child will go to class a few days a week.
Mexico registers 81,400 confirmed cases and at least 9,044 deaths.
In return, Colombian President Iván Duque extended the mandatory isolation for one more month starting next Monday due to the increase in infections, although there will be 43 new exceptions, including hairdressing services, libraries, shopping centers and museums. The latter may only operate at 30% of their capacity. Bars, clubs, restaurants and national and international air service will continue to be restricted.
The mayor of Bogotá, Claudia López, questioned the decision and maintained that “if the shopping malls open, then there will be customers. It is a deception for citizens to tell them that there is preventive isolation. There is no isolation, the President ended the quarantine. ” He added that “there is no quarantine with 43 exceptions, there is no isolation with 43 exceptions, what there is is the authorization of economic reactivation to privilege employment.”
The Colombian National Administrative Department of Statistics reported that the unemployment rate went from 10.3% in April last year to 19.8% in the same month this year, the highest level for this month in almost two decades. Colombia has 25,366 infected and 822 deceased.
At night the president referred to the figures and said that this “is an alert” and that it affects everyone. “We also know the factors of informality, how it impacts. Our challenge is to recover productive activity because we have to save the lives of Colombians, but at the same time we have to save jobs, “he added.
Meanwhile, Chile’s death toll rose to 944, while cases exceeded 90,000. Most are concentrated in the Chilean capital, which began its third week of compulsory confinement on Friday.
The government’s initial policy in the face of the pandemic was to detect and isolate those infected, but in May the increase in those infected was such that their control was largely lost.
Faced with criticism that the infected and their contacts would not be followed by telephone, the Minister of Health, Jaime Mañalich, said that the percentage of calls that remain to be made “is relatively less.”
Uncontrolled infections put the maximum pressure on the capital’s health system, which, despite adding new beds daily for the use of critically ill patients, often reaches its limit and must refer patients to medical centers in the south and north of the country .
Meanwhile, the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health reported that 3,334 deaths due to COVID-19 and 38,571 infected have been reported until Saturday.
In El Salvador, the number of cases rose to 2,278, while the death toll reached 42.
Hours later, in Venezuela the number of infected rose to 1,356 after the confirmation of 43 new cases, of which 20 correspond to an outbreak that was detected in the popular market of Las Pulgas in the western city of Maracaibo in the state of Zulia, which has It has been considered the “most dangerous focus”, and 15 are travelers from Colombia, said the Minister of Communication, Jorge Rodríguez, in a transmission from the state television.
The death toll rose to 14 due to the death of three people, a 56-year-old woman and a 63-year-old man, who were infected in the focus of the Maracaibo market and a 41-year-old woman who died in the central state of Miranda, Rodríguez specified.
Given the emergence of the outbreak in Maracaibo, President Nicolás Maduro ordered a curfew between 4 in the afternoon and 10 in the morning in the municipalities of Guajira, Mara and Jesús María Semprun in Zulia state, which are close to the border with Colombia. Authorities also maintain curfews in some municipalities in the states of Táchira, Apure and the island of Margarita after COVID-19 outbreaks were detected in those localities.
Of the total infected, 926 are asymptomatic, 1,054 are kept in public and private health centers and 302 are recovered.
In the last two weeks, coronavirus cases have multiplied, a situation that the authorities have attributed to the massive return of Venezuelans from Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Brazil. The authorities assure that more than 52,000 Venezuelans have returned, a figure that is still very low compared to the five million that migrated in recent years.
Guatemala later reported 4,517 infected and 90 deceased.
To date, some 859,000 infections and more than 46,000 deaths have been registered in Latin America. Brazil has the highest number of infections and deaths and is the second most affected country in the world only after the United States.
Globally, more than 5.9 million people have been infected and more than 364,000 have died, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Science and Systems Engineering, which bases its data on reports from the governments and health authorities of each country.