South American countries has recently seen a surge of the coronavirus cases with epidemic curve maintaining an upward trend. Some South American countries are struggling to contain the outbreak, with Brazil, and Peru being worst hit. The World Health Organization (WHO) on May 22 2020 declared that the epicentre of the pandemic has shifted to South America.
South America countries reporting first positive case and fatality due to Covid-19
In South America, Brazil was the first country to report a confirmed coronavirus case. It detected its first positive case on 26 February 2020. Ecuador was the second country in the region to witness its first positive coronavirus case on 29 February 2020. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic confirmed to reach Chile and Argentina on 3 March 2020. Peru reported its first confirmed coronavirus case on 7 March 2020. The continent witnessed its first fatality due to coronavirus in Argentina on 7 March 2020, followed by Guyana on 13 March 2020. Ecuador reported its first fatality on 16 March 2020. One day later Brazil reported its first death due to coronavirus. Following this, on 20 March 2020, Peru declared its first death due to coronavirus whereas; Chile reported its first fatality on 21 March and Columbia on 23 March (Figure1). (1)
Comparison among South American countries
In South America, Brazil and Peru crossed the mark of 10,000 confirmed cases after 40 days from the date of reporting first positive coronavirus case. Chile took 48 days to cross the mark of 10,000 cases. Brazil was the first country in the region to surpass the 100,000 confirmed cases in 69 days while, Peru and Chile took 76 days and 91 days to reach 100,000 mark of coronavirus cases. (Figure2). (2)
Brazil, Peru, Chile and Ecuador are among the most common South American countries suffering the most due to the novel coronavirus. Brazil has currently the highest number of confirmed cases than any other country in South America, by crossing a mark of 5, 00,000, followed by Peru, Chile and Ecuador. Brazil has also reported the highest number of total fatalities among all other South American countries (Figure 3). (2)
|COUNTRY||Total Cases||New Cases||Total Fatality||New Fatality|
Table1. South America country wise data as on 4 June 2020
Brazil, follows the USA with the second-highest number of confirmed cases worldwide and has reported more than 5, 55,000 patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Among the other countries in the continent, Peru has reported more than 1, 50,000 confirmed cases becoming ninth country with highest number of cases worldwide (Table2). Coronavirus has till now killed over 30,000 people in Brazil, which is fourth highest globally, behind the United States, United Kingdom, and Italy. (2)
South American countries policy response to Covid-19
Every country in the continent has now reported cases of novel coronavirus even though the pandemic reached South America a little later than other regions, such as Europe and the USA. (3) South American countries have adopted restrictive policy measures to reduce the spread of the pandemic such as nation-wide lockdown, curfew, closure of workplaces and borders. (4) Reducing mass gatherings, restriction of the movement of people, and reducing retail/commercial services and access to public areas are some Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions adopted by Brazil. (5) Soon after confirmation of first case of local transmission, Peru announced strict social-distancing measures. On 15 March, the country closed its borders and schools, issued stay indoors orders except for essential errands during the day and announced a countrywide curfew. (6) Ecuador’s response to the pandemic included monitoring the virus-related symptoms among travellers from high-risk areas. All non-essential activities were suspended. The use of virtual platforms was encouraged to conduct academic activities, jobs, and telemedicine. Like other countries, Ecuador also closed all its borders and a nation-wide curfew from 7 pm to 5 am took place to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. (7). Several non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) have been implemented across all countries of the continent.
The impact of the pandemic has been catastrophic in South American region. Most South American countries continue to see a surge in confirmed novel coronavirus cases with every passing day. The countries especially Brazil, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Columbia and Argentina should implement strict policy measures to overcome the pandemic.
- World Health Organization Dashboard [Internet] [cited 2020 June 5].Available from: https://covid19.who.int/region/amro/country/ar
- Joshi DA. Home [Internet]. SMAART Rapid Tracker: A Global Policy Informatics Tool to Track COVID-19 Outbreak (Corona Virus Disease Outbreak) [cited 2020 June 5]. Available from: http://www.smaartrapidtracker.org
- Kirby, T., 2020. South America prepares for the impact of COVID-19. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
- News – IOM UN Migration [Internet]. [cited 2020 June 5]. Available from: https://www.iom.int/news/confirmed-covid-19-cases-south-america-represent-87-cent-total-latin-america-iom-launches
- Non-pharmacological measures [Internet]. Brazilian Government [cited 2020 June 5]. Available: https://coronavirus.saude.gov.br/index.php/medidas-nao-farmacologicas
- News-How poorer countries are scrambling to prevent a coronavirus disaster [Internet]. [cited 2020 June 5]. Available from: https://media.nature.com/original/magazine-assets/d41586-020-00983-9/d41586-020-00983-9.pdf
- Hallo, A., Rojas, A. and Hallo, C., 2020. Perspective from Ecuador, the Second Country with More Confirmed Cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in South America: A Review. Cureus, 12(3).