The president of El Salvador warned that security forces had been ordered to enforce quarantine orders more rigorously to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, confining offenders to “containment centres” and confiscating their cars. “The restrictions are the same, but we are going to be much tougher to enforce them,” President Nayib Bukele said in a televised address to the central American nation of around 6mn people.
In neighbouring Honduras, the security ministry said it would temporarily ban the carrying of firearms for everyone except those transporting, food, cargo and other goods deemed essential during the health crisis.
Bukele, said he had instructed his security and defence ministers to take firmer action enforcing quarantine measures in the country, which has confirmed 78 cases of the virus, with four deaths so far.
In addition to having their cars confiscated, those who violate the quarantine orders will also be taken to “containment centres” for 30 days, Bukele said.
He added that national quarantine measures would be extended by 15 days, without specifying the precise date when they would end.
Bukele also outlined a plan to track down people who are carriers of the virus and place them in observation.
Meanwhile, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in Latin America, Brazil’s Sao Paulo state, said it expects 111,000 deaths in the next six months, and extended its stay-at-home measures another two weeks. The forecast - an official projection, the state government said - would appear to put Brazil on track to become one of the worst-hit countries in the world.
The global death toll from the virus currently stands at 70,000, according to a tally compiled by AFP.
Sao Paulo, the teeming industrial hub where the new coronavirus first appeared in Latin America, has confirmed 4,620 cases and 275 deaths so far.
Governor Joao Doria, who closed non-essential businesses on March 24 and advised people to stay home, said containment measures would be needed for at least two more weeks or the situation would get far worse.
“If we continue seeing people in the streets and gathering unnecessarily, we will go to more restrictive measures,” he told a news conference.
Police are already authorised to break up crowds by force if necessary, he said.
Without containment measures, Sao Paulo — whose capital is the mega-city of the same name — would register 270,000 deaths in the next six months, said the head of the state’s public health research institute, Dimas Covas.
Brazil has been the Latin American country hit hardest by the new coronavirus, with 553 deaths and more than 12,000 confirmed cases so far.
Sao Paulo, a state whose population of 46mn makes it about the size as Spain, has seen more infections and deaths than any other.
The state is probably facing another 1,300 deaths this week, Covas said.
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