Coronavirus cases continue to soar across Latin America
July 13 2020 11:46 PM
Shopkeepers clean
Shopkeepers clean a street in Tepito neighbourhood in Mexico City, amid the new coronavirus pandemic.


Latin America surged past the US and Canada to become the second-worst affected region in the world for coronavirus deaths, according to an AFP tally yesterday.
With 144,758 deaths officially declared by 0800GMT, the region surpassed the US and Canada’s total of 144,023 and is now behind only Europe with 202,505 deaths.
Brazil accounts for almost half of Latin America’s recorded fatalities. Latin America now has several of the world’s hardest-hit nations.
Brazil is the second most affected country with 72,100 deaths and Mexico, which has recorded 35,006 fatalities, has overtaken Italy and lies in fourth place.
Peru (11,870) and Chile (6,979) are also battling severe outbreaks.
Deaths in Mexico from the coronavirus pandemic rose above 35,000 on Sunday.
Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, however, said the pandemic was “losing intensity” in Mexico, and blamed what he called “conservative media” for causing alarm.
Mexico on Sunday recorded 276 additional fatalities and 4,482 new infections to bring its coronavirus death toll to 35,006, with 299,750 confirmed cases.
Italy has recorded 34,954 deaths and 243,061 cases.
Mexico trails the US, Brazil and the UK in total deaths.
While Italy appears to have tamed the virus, the pandemic is showing few signs of easing in Mexico, where the government has faced criticism for reopening its economy too soon.
Lopez Obrador said he was briefed on the pandemic this past week and was optimistic.
“The report is positive, good. The conclusion is that the pandemic is going down, that it is losing intensity,” he said in a video message.
Lopez Obrador also backed Hugo Lopez-Gatell, Mexico’s deputy health minister and coronavirus czar, after criticism of his handling of the crisis.
Lopez-Gatell has kept revising his projections for total fatalities and as recently as June forecast up to 35,000 deaths through October.
In early May, the estimate was 6,000.
The coronavirus death toll per million residents in Mexico, whose population numbers about 120mn, is the 16th highest in the world, according to data by research firm Statista.
But Mexican officials say the true toll is likely much higher due to limited testing.
A Reuters analysis of funeral-home data in May indicated a toll more than double the reported figures.
Several former officials have criticised Lopez Obrador’s administration for its management of the epidemic.
Former health minister Salomon Chertorivski, who held the post from 2011 to 2012, said on Thursday the government had reopened the economy before meeting globally established criteria for doing so.
He added that Mexico might need to impose a new lockdown.
“There are three fundamental variables: a reduction in the last 14 days in the numbers of contagions, reduction in recent days in the number of deaths, and reduction in the number of hospitalised people,” Chertorivski told Mexican newspaper Reforma.
“None of those three parameters were achieved.” 
Meanwhile Argentina has registered more than 100,000 Covid-19 cases, its ministry of health said , despite the Buenos Aires area — the country’s coronavirus hot spot — being under extended shutdown.
The country now has recorded 1,845 deaths from the pandemic with 100,153 positive cases and almost 43,000 people recovered.
The shutdown in the Buenos Aires area, the most populated region of the country, is due to end on Friday.
Authorities are still debating what restrictions will remain in place, though the reopening of some shops and permits to run in parks are expected.
Crisis-wracked Argentina has been in recession since 2018 and has been further rocked by the coronavirus outbreak.
The International Monetary Fund predicts its economy will shrink by almost 10% this year.
Carla Vizzotti, deputy health minister, said the lockdowns would be maintained while hospitals continued to fill up.
“What we want to do is...decrease virus transmission and buy more time for the health service to be able to respond,” she said.

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