New infections on rise across Latin America
RIO DE JANEIRO — The coronavirus pandemic accelerated across Latin America on Friday, bringing a surge of new infections and deaths, even as curves flattened and reopening was underway in much of Europe, Asia and the United States.
The region’s two largest nations — Mexico and Brazil — reported record counts of new cases and deaths almost daily this week, fueling criticism of their presidents, who have slowed shutdowns in attempts to limit economic damage.
Brazil reported more than 20,000 deaths and 300,000 confirmed cases, making it the third worsthit country in the world by official counts. Experts consider both numbers undercounts due to the widespread lack of testing.
Infections rose and intensive-care units were also swamped in Peru, Chile and Ecuador, countries lauded for imposing early and aggressive business shutdowns and quarantines. Many experts said the rising death toll across Latin America showed the limits of government action in a region where millions labor in informal jobs and many police forces are weak or corrupt and unable to enforce restrictions.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has scoffed at the seriousness of the virus and actively campaigned against state governors’ attempts to impose limits on citizens’ movements and commerce.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador downplayed the threat the virus posed for weeks as he continued to travel the country after Mexico’s first confirmed case. He let his health advisers take the lead on the crisis, but continued insisting that Mexico was different, that its strong family bonds and work ethic would pull it through.
Mexico passed 6,000 confirmed deaths Wednesday.
A health worker checks on a patient at the COVID-19 zone of a hospital Friday in Atizapan, Mexico.