Who said the continent has taken the U.S. place as the region in the world that worries most about the increase in cases. Brazil is the country that has most influenced change, but it is not the only country where the situation has worsened.
South America has become the new epicenter of the new coronavirus pandemic, the director of the World Health Organization (WHO) emergency program said at a press conference on Friday (22/5).
“We have seen many South American countries with increasing number of cases, and clearly there is concern in many of these countries, but certainly the most affected is Brazil at this point,” Ryan said.
The statement came after WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom was asked how he was assessing the epidemic in Brazil after the country reported more than 1,000 deaths in the last two days and whether the organization was negotiating any direct assistance to the country.
Adhanom then asked for the question to be answered by Ryan, who reported that the Pan American Health Organization, who is the WHO’s arm in the Americas region, is assisting not only the federal government, but also many of the state governments.
“Most cases are from the region of São Paulo, but also Rio de Janeiro, Ceará, Amazonas, Pernambuco are being affected. But in terms of attack rates, the highest are actually in the Amazon: about 490 people infected for every 100,000 inhabitants, which is a very high attack rate,” Ryan said.
As a result, the South American continent takes the place that was hitherto in the United States and has previously belonged to Europe and China as the most worrying region in the world because of the large number of new cases of covid-19 recorded per day.
As the WHO has made clear, Brazil is the country that has most influenced the change of the epicenter of the pandemic, but it is not the only one where the situation has worsened. Understand below.
How serious is the pandemic in South America?
South America was one of the last continents to confirm an infection with the new coronavirus.
The first confirmed case in the region was precisely in Brazil, on February 26, although researchers have pointed out that there are indications that there were cases already in January.
Since then, coronavirus has reached all countries in the region. More than 548,000 cases have been reported and more than 28,000 people have died so far, according to the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
The total number of infections and deaths in South America is still far below Europe, the U.S. and Asia, but testing in countries in the region is not as broad as elsewhere in the world.
Therefore, it is believed that the figures are being underreported and that the epidemic is even more serious.
Brazil is by far the South American nation that is in the worst situation, with more than 310,000 cases and 20,000 deaths.
The exponential increase in total cases in recent days has made the country surpass Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom and become the third in the world with the most infections, behind only Russia and the United States, which have 318,000 and 1.58 million cases respectively.
The pandemic led to a rapid increase in the occupation of beds in intensive care units of hospitals, and in capitals such as Manaus, Belém and Natal, the public health system collapsed? which led to emergency actions, such as opening new beds and field hospitals to meet the demand.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) was widely criticized both in the country and internationally for having minimized the pandemic.
Bolsonaro has already declared that everything was just a “fantasy”, classified the worldwide reaction as a “hysteria” and stated that the covid-19 was a “flu”.
The president also spoke several times against the measures of social isolation adopted by the state governments, a topic that was the cause of disagreement and friction with the then Minister of Health, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who left on April 16.
His successor, Nelson Teich, resigned a week ago. One of the reasons would be Bolsonaro’s insistence to recommend the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of patients without scientific proof that these substances are safe and effective.
The brazilian president’s behavior led The Lancet, one of the world’s most important scientific medical journals, to publish an editorial with harsh criticism against him.
The publication highlighted the severity of the pandemic in Brazil and said bolsonaro was “perhaps theor threat to the response to covid-19” in the country.
Peru is the second most affected by the pandemic in the region, although it was one of the first to adopt social isolation.
The country has the 12th highest number of cases in the world, with 108,000 confirmed infections, and 3,200 deaths.
The number of new daily cases was above 3,000 during almost the entire month of May, when previously this number had been reached only once during the pandemic.
Since last week, the ICUs of the capital Lima are operating with 80% of their capacity occupied. Pilar Mazzetti, head of Peru’s Covid-19 Command Force, acknowledged that “at this time, the situation is very critical.”
PAHO expressed concern about the spread of the virus on the triple border of the Amazon region between Brazil, Peru and Colombia, where the indigenous population is particularly vulnerable.
The situation in the country has worsened very quickly. On May 1, there were 16,000 confirmed infections. Today, the number is almost four times higher.
With 61,800 cases, Chile is the third most affected country in South America and the 16th in the world.
Since then, the total number of deaths has more than doubled, from 227 to 630, but the country is well below Brazil and Peru.
Still, the number of patients with covid-19 exceeds the number of recoveries, and more and more patients need mechanical ventilators to help breathe.
And the authorities fear the situation will worsen. Emergency units are already operating at 90% of their capacity.
Therefore, there was a hardening of isolation measures in the capital Santiago, where there were protests because of the difficult economic situation created in the country by the pandemic.
The peak has not yet reached
Unlike the United States and most countries in Europe, where rates are falling, many South American countries are still experiencing an increase in the number of daily cases and deaths.
The number of deaths in Brazil and Peru is doubling approximately every two weeks, compared to every two months in the United Kingdom and the United States, four months in France and five months in Italy.
Experts say the peak of the epidemic in some countries in the region is still a few weeks away.
As daily cases continue to increase, there are concerns that health systems may be overwhelmed, as has already occurred in Ecuador, which has the fourth highest number of cases so far on the continent, with more than 35,800 confirmed infections and 3,000 deaths.