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Three pregnant women await treatment at a hospital in Lima, Peru Three pregnant women await treatment at a hospital in Lima, Peru  (ANSA)

Covid-19: Latin America current epidemic battleground

Latin America is becoming the epicenter battleground for the Covid-19 pandemic, with sharply rising numbers of infections and deaths. Yet scant testing services in many areas mask the true extent of the crisis.

By James Blears

Brazil has 2.6 million Covid-19 infections which have resulted in more than 90,000 deaths. That's second only to the United States.

Health officials say Mexico has more than half a million cases, with more than 46,000 deaths. 

Yet health authorities in both countries concede this is more than likely a gross underestimation.

Low testing rates


One significant factor is the testing system which is fractional, fragmented and minimal.

Mexico is testing six people per thousand, and in Brazil it's twelve per thousand. 

The Director of the Pan-American Health Organization, Dr Carissa Etienne, says that Latin America has now become the epicenter of the pandemic.

Leading by example

Critics say the leaders of Brazil and Mexico have not been setting a good or responsible example.

In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro initially downplayed the novel coronavirus and shunned wearing a mask. As a result he caught Covid-19. Now First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro has tested positive for it.

In Mexico, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has a well-documented history of heart trouble, having suffered two heart attacks, doesn't often wear a mask either.

Opposition politicians are seeking a court order to oblige him to do so. He's retorted he'll only wear a mask once corruption nationwide is defeated.

Many see this as a case of do what I say, rather than do what I do.

01 August 2020, 15:02