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  HOME | Latin America (Click here for more)

Rising Number of COVID-19 Cases Throughout Latin America

MIAMI – At least 23 inmates died and 83 were wounded or injured at Bogota’s Modelo prison and other penal facilities on the weekend during riots staged by prisoners ostensibly to protest overcrowding and the lack of measures to prevent infection by the coronavirus, Colombian Justice Minister Margarita Cabello Blanco reported.

Cabello said in Bogota that of the 83 prisoners injured, 32 had been hospitalized, adding that a “massive and criminal escape attempt” had been staged at the Modelo prison and a total of seven Inpec prison officials and guards had been injured, two of whom are in serious condition.

The Modelo riot was the largest and most serious, but similar incidents also occurred at Bogota’s La Picota and Buen Pastor prisons, the latter a women’s facility; as well as the Combita maximum security prison in Boyaca province; the Picaleña prison in Ibague, capital of Tolima province; at Jamundi in Valle del Cauca province and at the Pedregal and Bellavista prisons in Antioquia, among others.

The minister said that “there were no escapes” during the riots, emphasizing that “There was a criminal escape plan here that was foiled.”

She also denied that there was any health problem at any of the facilities, saying that “Today, there is not a single infection, not an inmate, not a … staffer or a guard who has the coronavirus or who should be isolated due to the coronavirus.”

Inpec director Brig. Gen. Norberto Mujica, said that all the riots had been brought under control and that the names of the dead would be released as soon as they are identified.

So far, 231 people have been infected with the coronavirus in Colombia, two have died and three have recovered, the Health Ministry said Sunday.

In Peru, an Ipsos survey published in the Lima daily El Comercio said that 95 percent of Peruvians support the general and obligatory quarantine declared by the government seven days ago to attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

So far, 318 people are known to have been infected with the virus and five have died.

Besides the forced isolation of the entire population, the Peruvian government has also imposed an overnight curfew from 8 pm until 5 am that has the backing of 96 percent of the public.

Peru has been one of the countries to respond most quickly and aggressively to the presence of the virus, with the first case being detected there on March 6 and a general and obligatory quarantine being declared on March 15, when there were already 71 known cases.

In Brazil, Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta called on Sunday for the government to postpone the municipal elections scheduled for Oct. 4 to prevent campaign rallies and other events from helping spread the coronavirus.

He said that the candidates probably will continue to hold campaign events in the coming months and such activities could facilitate the spread of the virus, thus causing a health “tragedy.”

Thus, he urged the National Congress to discuss the matter, postpone the elections and provisionally extend the mandates of current mayors and councilors around the country beyond January 2021, when those terms had been scheduled to expire.

Brazilians are slated to go to the polls to elect 5,564 mayors and about 56,810 municipal councilors.

As of Sunday, 1,546 people in Brazil were known to have been infected with the coronavirus and 25 of them had died.

On Sunday, the Quito City Hall activated a seven-point preventive control plan to test incoming and outgoing vehicles – both passenger and cargo – at access points to the Ecuadorian capital to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected about 800 people and killed 14.

Of the detected cases, 701 are stable and in home isolation and 71 are hospitalized, 17 of whom have a “guarded” prognosis.

The government said that health checks will be performed on everyone in vehicles coming to the highway checkpoints to “prevent the spread” of the disease.

The SNGRE national risk and emergency service said that there are another 700 suspected cases of the virus in Ecuador.

Bolivia implemented a full quarantine on Sunday with 24 cases of coronavirus confirmed nationwide, according to the Health Ministry.

Although Santa Cruz province Gov. Ruben Costas said that the first cases detected in Bolivia were imported from Europe, since then more “community spread” cases – with no clear origin or point of contact with an infected person – have arisen, and he issued a call to the public to “responsibly” follow the government’s guidelines and orders to prevent more cases.

The Dominican Republic on the weekend experienced a huge spike in coronavirus cases, with the number of confirmed cases on Sunday standing at 202, 80 percent more than on Saturday. Three people have died from viral complications, the Health Ministry said in a communique, although Health Minister Rafael Sanchez Cardenas said that the country had not entered the “community spread” stage of the disease, although he warned that the data indicate that things are “moving” in that direction.

The minister said that the majority of the cases detected so far are linked to three outbreak foci: a wedding in Punta Cana, the Costa Favolosa cruise ship and a private party.

Dominican Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas, 69, is among the latest people to be infected, although on Sunday he said on Twitter that despite testing positive for the disease he is not yet showing any symptoms. Vargas’ son Miguel Paul had tested positive for the virus after attending the Punta Cana wedding on March 14.

The Cuban Public Health Ministry (Minsap) on Sunday announced that 35 COVID-19 cases have been detected around the country, 10 more than on Saturday, adding that almost 1,000 people are in preventive isolation.

The 10 new cases include seven Cuban citizens linked to people who had arrived from abroad and three Canadian tourists who traveled to Havana from Mexico and spent the night in a private home they had rented.

Of Cuba’s 35 cases detected to date, 33 are hospitalized with two of them in critical condition and one in serious condition – all of them foreigners – while the rest of the cases are stable at present.

One person has died to date in Cuba, a 61-year-old Italian tourist who was one of the first COVID-19 cases detected on the communist island.

Of almost 1,000 people in preventive isolation – 255 are foreigners and 727 are Cuban citizens. Another 30,773 people are being monitored in home isolation.


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