By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that South America has now become an epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic. Here we’ll look at the four countries that have been hit hardest to date in the pandemic.

Brazil

Brazil has been hit the hardest by COVID-19, in fact, the country is going back and forth with Russia as to who has the second or third most cases on the planet.

According to the Ministry of Health, 330,890 total cases were reported through Friday after nearly 21,000 new cases were recorded. 135,430 people have recovered and 21,048 deaths have been recorded.

The majority of cases in Brazil are in the Sao Paulo region and last week, Sao Paulo’s mayor warned that its health system could be overwhelmed very soon if residents don’t follow social distancing guidelines. Officials in the city of 12 million have declared a five-day holiday in a bid to get residents to stay home.

The states of Rio de Janeiro, Ceara, Amazonas and Pernambuco have been heavily affected as well.

Peru

Peru’s Ministry of Health reports that as of Friday, there are 111,698 positive COVID-19 cases in the country, the 2nd highest on the continent. To date, there are 7,545 hospitalized patients with Covid-19, of whom 901 are in the ICU with mechanical ventilation. 3,244 deaths have been recorded.

Lima continues to be the region with the highest number of Covid-19 infected to date with 71,719.

The Guardian reports, despite Peru apparently doing everything right and going into lockdown quickly, it is being hit hard by the virus.

Its president, Martín Vizcarra, announced one of the earliest coronavirus lockdowns in Latin America on 16 March. But more than two months later the country is one of the region’s worst-hit by Covid-19 and has been unable to flatten the curve of infections.

Chile

Through Thursday, Chile’s Ministry of Health has recorded 61,857 cases, including 630 deaths. The Santiago Metropolitan area has seen more than 48,000 cases and 423 deaths.

The Minister of Health, Jaime Mañalich said in a speech Thursday,  “We are fighting against a terrible enemy, that infiltrates our homes, that impoverishes us, that makes us distance ourselves from our loved ones, that produces uncertainty, that produces a demand for our hospital network, for our public health officials, that they also get sick, they also suffer and that is why we want to take advantage of today to highlight and thank them whenever we see new heroes in them”.

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He added that 943 people are hospitalized in intensive care units, of which 785 remain connected to a mechanical ventilator and 148 are in critical condition.

The growing outbreak in Chile prompted the United States embassy in Santiago on Wednesday issued a health alert for its citizens after the government of Chile implemented measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

In a statement, the embassy said: “LATAM has resumed commercial flights between Santiago and the U.S. As commercial flight options and availability may change with little notice, the U.S. Embassy continues to encourage all citizens who are not prepared to remain in Chile for an indefinite period of time to take advantage of commercial flights to the U.S. while they are available.”

Ecuador

Ecuador’s Ministry of Health has reported 35,828 confirmed cases and 3,056 deaths through Friday. The province of Guayas accounts for more than a third of the country’s cases (13516).

Last week, health officials announced the first COVID-19 case in one of Ecuador’s indigenous Amazon tribes ( the Waorani community). The infected person was described as a 17-year-old pregnant woman from the Waorani tribe who started showing symptoms on May 4. She was taken to a hospital in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, and placed in isolation.

Waorani organizations had warned that the impact of COVID-19 on their communities could become “catastrophic and highly lethal,” due to their vulnerability to diseases.

 

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