New in­fec­tions on rise across Latin Amer­ica

Baltimore Sun - - CORONAVIRU­S OUTBREAK - By David Biller and Christo­pher Sher­man

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.

PE­DRO PARDO/GETTY-AFP

A health worker checks on a pa­tient at the COVID-19 zone of a hospi­tal Fri­day in Ati­za­pan, Mex­ico.

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