On Wednesday Alejandro Chafuen—the Acton Institute’s Managing Director, International—continued his series of articles on Forbes.com chronicling the impact of the coronavirus in Latin America. While the total number of cases has yet to reach the levels we see in the United States, the rate of infections and related deaths is increasing. While testing is becoming more frequent and widespread, it still trails behind much of the rest of the world. As winter settles over the Southern Hemisphere, the answers to many questions remain anyone’s guess. Chafuen writes:
Confirmed cases of coronavirus, and the number of related deaths, are growing at a faster rate in Latin America than in the United States and most other regions of the world. Last month, the number of confirmed cases multiplied by seven and the number of deaths by seven and a half.
In the region’s two most populous countries, Brazil and Mexico, cases increased tenfold. Within a couple of months their numbers may reach those of the United States. Given the movement of trade and people, the situation of Brazil – which shares borders with seven large countries plus Suriname and French Guiana – carries the greatest weight in South America. Mexico is the most relevant for North America.
Testing continues to lag when compared with more developed regions, and – hardly surprising – the growth in confirmed cases per million inhabitants correlates almost perfectly with the increase in testing. In the last month, both increased by a factor of three. But in Brazil and Mexico, deaths per million increased fivefold. Mexico continues to show many fewer cases than Brazil; its test rate is half that of Brazil, which may explain part of the difference.
The three Latin American countries with the most confirmed cases are also those whose economies are most integrated with China’s: Brazil, Peru, and Chile. But other countries such as Uruguay that also count China as a major trading partner have very few confirmed cases. More than trade figures, we should look at travel to and from Wuhan, where the virus originated, and travel to and from other cities where the pandemic hit hardest, such as New York, Madrid and London.
(Photo credit: A member of the Peruvian military enforces curfew. Ministerio de Defensa del Perú. CC BY 2.0.)