The novel coronavirus continued to slowly spread across Latin America Sunday, March 8, as countries in the region reported a gradual increase in Covid-19 cases.
As of Saturday, March 7, Mexico had seven confirmed case of the disease, according to the nation’s Public Health Secretariat (SSP).
An SSP spokesman said the cases had been detected in Mexico City, the State of Mexico, Chiapas Coahuila and Sinaloa.
Meanwhile, Brazil, the country most affected so far, reported six new cases, bringing the nation’s total to 25, the government said.
Three of the 25 cases were locally transmitted, meaning patients were infected within their communities, not abroad or by someone who had traveled abroad.
Two of those cases are in Sao Paulo state and one in the eastern state of Bahia.
The Brazilian government said Friday, March 7, it will more closely scrutinize flight passengers arriving from such regions as North America, Asia and Europe.
In Argentina, authorities said Sunday that three new cases had brought the total to 12.
A 64-year-old Argentine man infected with COVID-19 died on Saturday, March 7, becoming the first death related to the virus in South America, the Argentine Ministry of Health said.
Chile’s Ministry of Health reported three new cases on Sunday, bringing that country’s total to 10.
The new patients included an elderly person, 83, who contracted the disease from a visiting relative from the United States who had yet to show symptoms.
“Upon returning to the United States, the relative became seriously ill and tested positive for COVID-19,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Chilean patient is “in general good health,” but is being closely monitored at a private hospital because of possible risks due to her advanced age.
In Peru, where a total of six cases have been confirmed so far, President Martin Vizcarra called on private hospitals and clinics to join the government-led efforts to combat the virus.
“We have been working with public hospitals, coordinating with all of the regional health authorities throughout the country. We have called on those that provide private healthcare to also join this effort,” he said.
Vizcarra announced Peru’s first confirmed case on Friday, March 6: a young man, 25, who returned to the capital Lima on Feb. 26 from a trip to Europe, a region where the virus has been fast spreading.
Of the five additional cases announced on Saturday, four had direct contact with the young man.
As of Friday afternoon, 14 countries in the Americas, namely 12 in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as the United States and Canada, had reported confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, according to a press release of the Pan-America Health Organization (PAHO) — the regional office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).
The PAHO urged countries to focus on containing the virus, saving lives by ensuring that health workers are protected and that the sector is prepared to care for patients, and reducing transmission through multi-sectoral actions and measures.
“The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are already in the phase of responding to cases and clusters of COVID-19,” said PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne, calling on countries to prepare for potential localized outbreaks and community transmission while handling the situation of imported cases.