Chile Prepares for Worst Weeks of Coronavirus

May 13, 2020
2:00 PM
Originally published at Latin America News Dispatch

Health authorities check the body temperature of repatriated Chilean passengers upon their arrival at the International Airport in Santiago, on May 08, 2020. (Photo by MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP via Getty Images)

CHILE: President Sebastián Piñera said that the coronavirus outbreak will reach its peak in the next few weeks, as the number of cases spikes across the region. In the capital city of Santiago, health officials reported that more than three-quarters of ventilators are already in use and many fear a collapse of public health resources should the number of cases continue to grow. In his televised speech on Tuesday, Piñera said the country will face “the greatest health challenges in decades.”

Chile’s infection rate has more than doubled in the past month to a high of 31,000 cases. Earlier this week, Health Minister Jaime Mañalich announced a pilot program for rapid testing, and almost 6 million citizens, about one third of the population, have been placed under lockdown. Piñera reassured citizens that Chile’s mortality rate remains the lowest in the region, and that the country’s rate of testing was one of the highest. The President previously announced a plan to reopen the country. He has come under fire for his administration’s plan to issue coronavirus “immunity cards.”



ARGENTINA-BRAZIL: Brazil’s federal police arrested a former Argentine Navy officer, Gonzalo “Chispa” Sánchez, who was accused of being involved in the assassinations of opposition members, students and journalists in the 1970s. Sánchez was apprehended on Monday in Paraty, a city in the southern coast of Río de Janeiro state, and will be extradited to Argentina. The Navy officer was placed under house arrest in 2013 and set to be extradited in 2019.


COLOMBIA-VENEZUELA: According to Colombia’s migration agency, more than 52,000 Venezuelans have voluntarily returned to their home country. Migration agency director Juan Francisco Espinosa said the migrants are motivated by Colombia’s quarantine measures, which cut off many from jobs in the construction and food industries. More than 25,000 migrants returned via humanitarian transports, while the other 27,000 remain in border areas. President Nicolás Maduro said he welcomed all returning citizens. Many worry about the conditions in quarantine facilities where the returnees are required to stay upon entering Venezuela.


ARUBA: The government announced that it will tentatively reopen its borders to inbound travelers between June 15 and July 1. The island is currently under a daily 10pm to 5am curfew and all non-essential businesses are closed. The country has been relatively spared by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 101 confirmed cases and 3 fatalities.

CUBA: Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla blamed U.S. President Donald Trump’s rhetoric for inciting Alexander Alazo Baro, the gunman who attacked the Cuban Embassy in Washington on April 30. “The attack was a direct result of an official policy of hatred and violence against Cuba,” Rodríguez said at a press conference. Rodríguez also called for the U.S. to investigate the shooting as a terrorist incident and denounced the government’s “complicity” in not criticizing the attack sooner.


GUATEMALA: Speaking to Congress on Monday, Vice Minister of Health Erick Muñoz said that 71 of the deportees on a 76-person flight from the United States on April 13 have tested positive for the Coronavirus. Guatemala asked the United States to pause deportations after passengers on the flight tested positive for the virus, but began accepting flights again after the United States started testing deportees. Since then, one deportee who allegedly tested negative in the United States has since tested positive upon arrival in Guatemala. The country’s Immigration Institute reported Monday that a total of 102 deportees have tested positive for COVID-19.


MEXICO: The death toll among medical staff combating the coronavirus pandemic reached 111 on Monday, according to Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell. He said the medical community has 8,544 confirmed cases of coronavirus and another 6,747 cases awaiting testing. Mexico currently has a total of 36,327 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with the actual number of infected believed to be much higher.

MEXICO: The Mexican Social Security Institute announced that the country lost 555,247 jobs in April due to quarantine measures. The number is the highest ever recorded for a single month. At least 67% of the losses were permanent jobs. According to the social security agency, the construction sector suffered the worst— registering a 15% decrease in jobs compared to April 2019.

MEXICO: Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard sent a diplomatic note to the United States on Monday requesting Mexico be sent all information regarding the “Fast and Furious” gun smuggling operation. Between 2009 and 2011, U.S. federal agents lost track of hundreds of guns that were allowed across the Mexican border in order to track criminal organizations. Ebrard requested the disclosure of all Mexican officials who were involved in the failed operation. The diplomatic note was sent after President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the operation violated the country’s sovereignty last Friday.

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