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Top 5 worst COVID outbreaks in South America and Latin America

Virus trends in the region have drastically changed. Here’s what’s going on with the pandemic

A health worker gives a shot of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in Brazil.
A health worker gives a shot of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine inside the Solidary Hands Shelter for the homeless in the poor neighborhood of Ceilandia in Brasilia, Brazil, Tuesday, June 29, 2021.
Eraldo Peres, Associated Press

As the delta variant continues to surge around the world, the landscape of outbreaks in South America and Latin America has begun to change drastically, according to data from The New York Times.

  • Daily case numbers remain high across the region — and among some of the highest in the world, per WHO data.
  • Surprisingly, infection rates have begun to fall in several high caseload countries while infection rates have begun to surge in a few new countries, per New York Times data.

Here’s what’s going on in South America and Latin America.

5. Colombia’s COVID-19 outbreak

Colombia's third wave of coronavirus outbreaks peaked on June 26, reported The City Paper Bogotá, a local Colombia outlet. The country continues to post some of the highest daily cases and deaths in the world even as its third wave recedes, per WHO data.

  • Last week, COVID-19 cases in Colombia decreased by 38%, according to data from The New York Times.
  • On average, Colombia has reported more than 16,300 new daily cases this week, per New York Times data.

As new cases steadily decline, the country has lifted restrictions on vaccine eligibility and expanded testing capabilities, reported The City Paper Bogotá.

4. Brazil’s COVID-19 outbreak

By absolute numbers, Brazil has — and continues to have — one of the worst outbreaks in the world, as the Deseret News reported in early July. The country’s outbreaks have been driven by new variants, low vaccinations and misinformation.

“Everything that you should not do, Brazil has done,” said professor Pedro Hallal, an epidemiologist leading Brazil’s largest COVID-19 study, per the BBC.

  • Still, last week, COVID-19 cases in Brazil decreased by 25%, according to data from The New York Times.
  • The average number of new daily cases in Brazil remains above 37,000 cases, per New York Times data.

Brazil still has the highest caseloads in South America and one of the highest in the world, based on WHO data. The country’s devastating outbreaks will take time to recover from, reported the Deseret News.

3. Argentina’s COVID-19 outbreak

Similar to Colombia and Brazil, Argentina’s recent devastating wave of COVID-19 has finally begun to subside even as the country continues to record a high number of cases and deaths. Last week, the country passed the grim milestone of 100,000 coronavirus fatalities, reported Al Jazeera.

  • Last week, COVID-19 cases in Argentina decreased by 22%, according to data from The New York Times.
  • Still, new daily cases in Argentina have averaged more than 13,700, per New York Times data.

Even as cases begin to decline, many active virus cases remain, reported Al Jazeera. Many Argentines are still struggling to cope with the pandemic and with the loss of loved ones.

2. Mexico’s COVID-19 outbreak

Unfortunately, Mexico is currently seeing a concerning surge in COVID-19 cases, reported Reuters. The sudden surge — which complicated reopening plans for the U.S.-Mexico border — has come from the delta variant.

  • Last week, COVID-19 cases in Mexico increased by 96%, according to data from The New York Times.
  • Wednesday, Mexico reported its highest number of cases since January, reported Reuters. The country recorded 15,198 new infections and 397 new deaths.

However, these official numbers are likely to be undercounted. Recent data has suggested that the death toll in Mexico could be up to 60% higher than official counts, per Reuters. Experts expect the current third wave to continue rising and peak in August, reported The Associated Press.

1. Cuba’s COVID-19 outbreak

Cuba’s current surge of coronavirus cases is the country’s first true wave, reported ABC News. For months, the island country contained the virus with strict lockdowns, quarantines and border closures.

Now, loosened restrictions coupled with the delta variant, low vaccination rates and recent historic demonstrations have all contributed to the soaring number of cases, reported ABC News. The surge has begun to strain the medical system.

  • Last week, COVID-19 cases in Cuba increased by 88%, according to data from The New York Times.
  • Cuba now has the highest rate of infections in the Americas with 56 cases per 100,000 people, per New York Times data.

Since the start of the pandemic, Cuba’s total caseload is just about 300,000 cases — about 100,000 of those cases have come during the first three weeks of July, reported ABC News. In this month alone, 717 people have died from COVID-19 — a large share of the country’s 2,019 total deaths.

  • Health officials are rushing to vaccinate the population as hospitals are being pushed to the brink by the recent surge, reported NBC News.