Latin American countries are showing dangerous trends of increasing COVID-19 cases. Brazil, Peru, Chile, and Mexico are now ranked second, tenth, thirteenth, and fourteenth, respectively, in the number of COVID-19 cases. GlobalData forecasts that these markets have not yet reached peak case numbers. It is likely that the outbreak will continue to worsen in Latin America, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
As the pandemic spread across the globe, different regions experienced unique outbreak trajectories. Peru, Chile, Brazil, and Mexico have not followed the same trajectory as China, the US, or Western Europe. These Latin American countries have tended to have slower starts, with the highest recorded daily cases not occurring until three months after the first local transmission (assumed to be when 100 cases were reported).
Kasey Fu, MPH, Director of Epidemiology at GlobalData, comments: “It will take until August and September for cases to decrease to near zero for Brazil, Peru, and Chile. Mexico may be have an earlier recovery date, in July. The pandemic will have far-reaching consequences in both health measures and economic impacts in these markets.”
Fu continues, “Several factors could have contributed to the outbreak’s slow start in Latin American countries. First, testing capabilities may not have been sufficiently developed in these markets during the early weeks to detect cases. Second, the geographical distance from China, where the virus first originated, may have lessened direct introductions. The presumed first confirmed cases COVID-19 in Brazil, Peru, and Mexico had traveled from Europe. Patient Zero in Chile was a traveler from Southeast Asia, and the next two confirmed cases had a travel history to Europe. Lastly, while the science is still speculative, the warm weather in South America in February and March may have slowed the transmission of respiratory infections early on.”
When ranking countries globally by the rate of infection (new cases per 1 million population), Latin American countries are not at the top. Panama, the Latin American country that has the highest case rate (94 cases per 1 million population), is far behind Middle Eastern countries (144–900 cases per 1 million population). Brazil, the Latin America country with the second highest case rate (55 cases per 1 million population), is behind Sweden (78 cases per 1 million population) and Russia (61 cases per 1 million population).
Fu concludes, “There are concerns about the accuracy of confirmed case count. Alternative measures of determining cases, such as excess mortality and news stories of overflowing morgues, show that official case counts are likely to be underestimations.”