Latin America is losing its battle against coronavirus.
As the global number of Covid-19 victims tops 400,000, the region has become the pandemic’s hotspot.
Latin America has recorded nearly 1.2 million cases and more than 60,000 deaths. But these numbers may be superficial, Matt Rivers reports. That’s because in several countries, testing rates remain low and many Covid-19 deaths go unreported.
Brazil, the region’s worst-hit country, has reported a new record number of deaths in each of the past three days. One study released this week says Brazil will likely see 1 million cases and 50,000 deaths by June 20.
But tracking the toll has become more difficult. President Jair Bolsonaro’s government stopped reporting total numbers on Thursday, the day Brazil’s death toll surpassed Italy’s. It removed the cumulative data from the official tracker and said it would only report the number of new cases and deaths each day.
“The manipulation of statistics is a maneuver made by authoritarian regimes. It’s an attempt to hide the Covid-19 numbers to reduce social control of health policies,” said Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes.
Only a handful of countries in the region — Uruguay, Belize and Costa Rica — have so far managed to limit the disease from spreading. How? Early responses, quarantine measures, an efficient tracing-and-isolation system and randomized testing.
George Floyd protesters say it’s worth braving coronavirus: “Obviously, people are a little bit closer together than is the recommended six-foot distance, but I think what we are doing is so important,” says Sarah Foster, one of the thousands of protesters marching in Washington, DC yesterday.
Health experts worry that the virus is spreading among protesters, even though most, including Foster, wear masks and try to keep their distance.
Despite the unease, more than 1,000 health professionals have signed a letter expressing their concern that the protests could be shut down under the guise of coronavirus protections. And they offer tips on how safely to keep protests in place.
“White supremacy is a lethal public health issue that predates and contributes to COVID-19,” they write.
The pandemic jump-starts efforts to free American held by Iran: In a bizarre twist of fate, Michael White, the US Navy veteran released from Iranian custody this week, may owe his freedom to the coronavirus outbreak.
When he and an Iranian being held in the US came down with the virus, it presented an opportunity to kick-start delicate negotiations that culminated in his release, Vivian Salama reports.
What coronavirus looks like if you don’t have internet access: With much of the world locked down in recent months, billions have watched the coronavirus crisis unfold through a seemingly universal window: the internet.
Eliza Mackintosh reports on the billions who remain offline. For them, lockdown means missing out on immediate access to vital public health information, remote work opportunities, online learning, telemedicine appointments, digital grocery deliveries, live-streamed religious services — weddings and funerals — and the many other ways we are now living our lives online.