Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru are all set to reach 1 million cases of the Coronavirus in the coming weeks as the second wave of COVID-19 hits Latin America. Epidemiologists anticipate a more “sustained, plateau-like trend,” according to a newly released report by the Associated Press, for LATAM countries that are still recovering from the first wave. The report adds that a weak public healthcare system, poor economic and governmental structures, and limited testing are some of the factors attributed to why the region holds five of the 10 countries with the highest total cases in the world.
Despite the world’s longest lockdown at more than 200 days, Argentina now has one of the highest rates of new daily infections per capita, according to Our World in Data. Though initially up to 90% of the confirmed cases were in the capital city of Buenos Aires with a population of more than 2 million, now 65% of the country’s cases are in its provinces and smaller towns, authorities told AP. Experts attribute it to the easing of the lockdown amid rising economic and political pressure as well as overwhelmed healthcare workers and a limit on intensive care beds for COVID-19 patients in addition to limited testing. In May, Reuters reported the country was working on an affordable and fast testing kit–the test is expensive for many of its citizens–and reported that at that time only 108,634 tests have been carried out in the nation of 45 million.
Argentina’s testing is significantly lower with just 13,890 tested this past Sunday in comparison to Colombia where 31,988 were tested that same day. However, the city of Manizales–100 miles from Bogotá–now registers 440.98 cases per 100,000 residents, higher than the nationwide average of 284.09 per 100,000, according to the Ministry of Health. This week, the City Paper of Bogotá reports the department of Antioquia where Medellín, the second-largest city in the nation is located, is the new epicenter of the pandemic. According to the publication, the anti-government marches have led to an increase in cases.
Meanwhile, Peru has reported 788,930 cases through Sept. 24, the second most infections in LATAM after Brazil and sixth in the world, according to Reuters. AP reports that officials say 12 regions are spiking back up. Yet they reportedly still plan to operate at as much as 50% of their capacity soon as they slowly lift lockdown restrictions citing a fall in overall cases. Peruvian officials rely on antibody testing to identify cases yet those tests aren’t designed to diagnose as they only detect proteins that develop a week or so after infection, AP reports.
Mexico has seen a rise in a quarter of all states over the last week according to the outlet with states including Nuevo Leon, Oaxaca, and Chihuahua experiencing a spike, according to The Mexicanist. They report that with the lockdown lifted and an increase in mass gatherings the number of cases one again increased in some states while 20 of Mexico’s 32 states report a decrease and four are in a plateau phase.
“Our countries are still getting out of the first wave,” Dr. Marcos Espinal, director of the Pan American Health Organization’s Department of Communicable Diseases, told AP. “A great part of the population remains exposed and community transmission continues.”