The corona protocols in Latin America are completely confusing. Every country, province or state and municipality is trying to avoid the second wave of the pandemic on its own. A renewed increase in infections would be catastrophic: all economies have recovered in the last three months. But now activities are stagnating again in Latin America.
by Alexander Busch, Latin America correspondent for Handelsblatt and Neue Zürcher Zeitung
Whoever travels within Latin America for the first time these days will experience a new, sometimes chaotic confusion of regulations and protocols regarding Corona – similar to Europe. Not only countries are in completely different stages of normalization. Sometimes even neighborhoods differ in their regulations. While in the San Isidro neighborhood, a suburb of Buenos Aires, everyday life is almost back to normal, with restaurants open, for example, in the neighboring Tigre neighborhood, public life is still strictly restricted. Another example: For flights to Peru, a negative PCR test is required, and a mask and protective shield are mandatory during the entire flight. Conversely, on the return flight to Brazil, there is not even a question about whether one has corona symptoms. While schools in São Paulo have already started again with classroom instruction in mid-October, Salvador’s public schools in the northeast still do not offer any classes – since the beginning of March!
This jumble of rules and regulations can be explained above all by the fear of governments at all levels of a second wave, as in Europe. So far, a renewed increase in infections has not been confirmed for the entire region, but it can by no means be ruled out. There are still local regions where the virus is spreading uncontrollably. Still among the twelve larger states worldwide are those with the highest death rates, about half of them from Latin America. Also in terms of infection rates per 100,000 inhabitants, there are five Latin American countries among the dozen most affected worldwide.
According to the latest study by Oxford Economics, the recovery of economic activity came to an abrupt halt in November. In the second half of October, Chile, Peru and Colombia were still showing clearly positive development. Now the economies of Chile, Mexico and Colombia are still around 20 percent below the level at the end of February. The recovery is most advanced in Brazil, where activity has fallen by 8.7 percent compared with pre-crisis levels. Peru and Argentina are still furthest behind with around 30 percent.
Surprisingly, the U.S. elections have brought relief to the region with the anticipated victory of Joe Biden: the currency has consistently won against the dollar. The stock markets also rose sharply in all countries. Foreign financial investors once again used the stock exchanges in Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Brazil to enter the market.
COVID-19 in Latin America
Development of case numbers in the region
Currently reported cases in the countries