WHO warns South America is becoming “new epicenter” of coronavirus pandemic

Health Emergency Program Executive Director Michael Ryan spoke about the considerable increase in contagion in several countries in the region.

WHO warns South America is becoming “new epicenter” of coronavirus pandemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Friday that South America is becoming the new focus of the coronavirus pandemic.

During a virtual conference on the current state of covid-19 around the world, WHO Executive Director Michael Ryan said they are seeing several South American countries in recent days have had a “significant increase” in contagion.

“In a sense, South America has become the new epicenter of the disease,” Ryan said. “There is a concern in many of these countries,” the specialist added.

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Brazil at the forefront

Michael Ryan emphasized the situation in Brazil, which as of Friday, May 22, has recorded 291,579 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 18,859 death, according to the latest WHO update.

The agency’s official emphasized the Brazilian states that concentrate the majority of contagions: Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Ceará, Amazonas and Pernambuco.

“The highest fatality rate [in Brazil] is in Amazonas, with a rate of 490 infected per 100,000 inhabitants, which is very high,” the specialist said.

Brazil is the nation hardest hit in Latin America and the Caribbean by the coronavirus pandemic.

Jair Bolsonaro’s government has opposed decreeing a quarantine at the national level with the aim of not severing the functioning of the economy. However, governors of Brazil’s 27 states have taken regional isolation measures, closed non-essential trades, and suspended inter-state transportation.

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In addition to Brazil, other countries in the region such as Peru, Chile and Ecuador have also turned on alarms over the growing number of contagions.

Peru accumulates 104,020 confirmed cases and posts 3,024 deaths; Chile has 53,617 contagions and 544 deaths; Ecuador has 34,854 infected and 2,888 deaths.

The president of Peru, Martín Vizcarra, extended until June 30 the state of emergency in the country. However, this Friday announced the resumption of professional sports activities, albeit without an audience.

In Chile, the representative Sebastián Piñera decreed a’mega-termena’until May 29 in Santiago, Chile, in the face of the increase in contagion recorded in the last week.

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For his part, Ecuador’s President Lenín  Moreno extended until June 15 the state of emergency that governs the South American country, with the aim of “controlling the health emergency”.

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