By James Blears – Mexico City, Mexico
Covid-19 infection rates in Mexico and Brazil aren’t diminishing, and the official figures are far apart from government estimates.
In Mexico, health chiefs estimate there are close to a million cases, with almost one hundred thousand people already dead. But with virtually no testing it’s almost certain to be many times higher.
Deputy Health Minister and Covid Spokesman Hugo Lopez Gatell has damaged his credibility by saying the peak has been reached, only for it to rise yet higher time and again.
He blames the media for a campaign against him, but now concedes that it’ll be some years before the true extent of the pandemic’s reach and devastating capacity will be finally known.
While further south in Brazil, as many as two million infected with over 150,000 dead.
A system to provide monthly payments to more than forty percent of the population is due to be terminated in December.
Without being able to track the progress, epicenters, and causes of the largely unchecked spread, there is no effective way to combat and isolate it.
A high proportion of both populations work forces survive, but little better, via the informal economy which has been decimated by the pandemic.
Even in the formal economy, thousands of businesses have gone to the wall, with rows of empty shops in the major cities.
Mexico’s government has just announced a 14-billion-dollar boost, mostly via private enterprise. But that’s nowhere near sufficient to bounce back a pancake-flat economy, which could shrink by more than ten percent in just one year.
Difficult to rebound
Latin America whose economies are fragile, just doesn’t have the capacity to rebound like the United States and Europe, no matter what is attempted or done.
Access to an effective vaccine is the only answer, but many here worry that this part of the world will be low down on the list when it comes to receiving it.
The result will be millions more slipping back into extreme poverty, with no real or practical alternatives for at least a generation.