Employees bury a person who died suspectedly from COVID-19 at the Vila Formosa cemetery, in the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil on March 31, 2020. Vila Formosa cemetery, the largest in Latin America with an area of 780 thousand square meters and where more than 1.5 million people were buried, had a 30% increase in the number of burials after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
AFP/Nelson Almeida
Pandemic spreads in Latin America as cases pass 20,000
(Agence France-Presse) - April 2, 2020 - 9:05am

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — More than 20,000 cases of COVID-19 were registered in Latin America and the Caribbean by Wednesday — double the figure from five days ago, according to an AFP tally.

As the threat of the pandemic grew across the region, a Guatemalan migrant died and more than 20 were wounded in a riot over coronavirus fears at a holding facility for Central American migrants in Mexico, officials said.

A protest by mostly Honduran migrants at the facility in southeastern Tabasco state turned violent late Tuesday after those inside set bedding ablaze amid fears over the spread of the virus.

Authorities had registered 537 deaths and 20,081 cases across the region by Wednesday afternoon.

Brazil recorded Latin America's first infection on February 26. With a population of 210 million, the South American giant is now the most affected country with 5,717 cases including 201 deaths.

President Jair Bolsonaro — who has repeatedly railed against social distancing measures he says are needlessly hurting the economy — found himself at the center of a row over spreading misinformation.

Bolsonaro posed a video online of a market supposedly hit by shortages caused by the pandemic. But he was forced to remove it hours later after journalists found the same market well stocked.

Bolsonaro has compared the coronavirus to a "little flu," and condemned the reaction to it as "hysteria," statements which have left him increasingly isolated, in Brazil and beyond.

Another leader criticized for taking the pandemic lightly, President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, replaced his health minister.

Nicaragua's government has yet to enforce preventive measures common in other countries, including closing borders or prohibiting crowds. 

It has reported five infections, with one death.

The minister, Carolina Davila, will remain as an advisor to the presidency however, the government said. 

More than 300 Bolivians and dozens of Peruvians were stranded at a makeshift camp at Huara in Chile on Wednesday, after their countries' borders were shut due to the coronavirus.

Chile's Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel pleaded for understanding, saying "all countries have to face this from a humanitarian perspective, especially with regard to the return of people who are in a position to return."

The pandemic has compounded an already desperate situation facing millions of refugees and migrants who fled Venezuela's economic collapse, said Eduardo Stein, the UN special representative for Venezuelan migrants and refugees.

The UN refugee agency and the International Organization of Migration jointly called on the international community to boost aid for millions of Venezuelan migrants threatened by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly five million people have left since 2015, most ending up in Colombia and other neighboring South American countries, overwhelming healthcare systems.

LATIN AMERICA NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 26, 2020 - 4:50pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

May 26, 2020 - 4:50pm

The Department of Health announces that a total of 14,669 individuals have contracted the coronavirus disease, with the agency reporting 350 new cases.

There are 89 new recoveries and 13 new deaths.

May 26, 2020 - 9:03am

The US coronavirus death toll has risen by 532 over the past 24 hours, the Johns Hopkins University tracker said Monday.

After that relatively small increase, the US toll now stands at 98,218 lives as of 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Tuesday), according to the Baltimore-based university, and US cases of infection now number 1,662,375. 

Both are the highest anywhere in the world. — AFP

May 26, 2020 - 7:21am

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 344,107 people since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1900 GMT on Monday.

The drop in the total numbers of deaths is due to Spain's revision of its toll downwards by nearly 2,000.

At least 5,453,650 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 2,133,900 are now considered recovered. — AFP

May 25, 2020 - 9:30am

The US coronavirus death toll has risen by 638 over the past 24 hours, the Johns Hopkins University tracker reported Sunday night.

After that relatively small increase, the US toll now stands at 97,686 lives as of 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Monday), according to the Baltimore-based university, and US cases of infection now number 1,641,585. — AFP

May 25, 2020 - 9:20am

The US coronavirus death toll has risen by 638 over the past 24 hours, the Johns Hopkins University tracker reported Sunday night.

After that relatively small increase, the US toll now stands at 97,686 lives as of 8:30 pm (0030 GMT Monday), according to the Baltimore-based university, and US cases of infection now number 1,641,585. — AFP

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