Argentina hits 1,000,000 cases and record deaths as COVID-19 slams Latin America

Argentina is the fifth country with the most cases of coronavirus in the world, a scenario unthinkable a few months ago when the South American country had low statistics while other countries in the region, such as Chile, were going through their worst moment of the pandemic.

This Monday (October 19), Argentina surpassed the barrier of 1,000,000 infections. But what is most worrying lies on another factor: the daily deaths per million inhabitants. Argentina came to lead this global list, with about eight deaths per day per million people, on a weekly average.

Far behind Argentina, on the weekly average of daily deaths per million inhabitants, the Czech Republic follows, with 5 deaths; Israel, with 3.73; Romania, with 3.42, and Colombia, with 3.19.

Argentina initially registered low virus case numbers but now has one of the highest rates of new daily infections per capita, according to Our World in Data, a non-profit online scientific publication based at the University of Oxford.

Where the virus is appearing is also shifting. Initially, up to 90 percent of the confirmed cases were in metropolitan Buenos Aires. Today, 65 percent of Argentina’s cases are in its provinces and even faraway places like Ushuaia, authorities said.

Across Latin America, three other nations are expected to reach the one million case milestone in the coming weeks - Colombia, Mexico, and Peru. The grim mark comes as Latin America continues to register some of the world’s highest daily case counts. And though some nations have seen important declines, overall there has been little relief, with cases dropping in one municipality only to escalate in another.

Brazil reached 1,000,000 cases in June and now is up to 5.2 million for the pandemic.

Argentina has seen cases spiral despite instituting one of the world’s longest lockdowns. Colombia’s major cities have seen a dip, but smaller areas like the department of Caldas in the coffee region are only now reaching a peak. Peru’s overall numbers have dropped, but officials recently reported 12 regions are spiking back up. Mexico, likewise, has seen a rise in a quarter of all states over the last week.

The result is that rather than a second virus wave like that being seen in Europe, epidemiologists anticipate a more sustained, plateau-like trend.

The virus path through Latin America is a consequence of weak public health systems, social factors like poverty and poor government decisions early on that resulted in flawed or limited testing, and little contact tracing. Today the region is home to half the 10 countries with the highest total cases around the globe.

Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, director of the Americas branch of the World Health Organization, warned recently that the coronavirus is appearing in places that were previously not affected, with high numbers popping up in regions like the English-speaking Caribbean.

"In many countries, the pandemic has also moved to less populated areas," she said.

Throughout the region, testing remains a hurdle. In Peru, officials have relied heavily on antibody tests to identify cases - even though the tests are not designed to make a diagnosis because they can only detect proteins that develop a week or more after infection.

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By: NewsFlare (98574.00)

Tags: News, Argentina, fifth country, most cases of coronavirus

Location: Argentina