How Brazil and Peru became the new COVID-19 epicentre

Published On June 9, 2020 | By Parmisse Menendez | International
Peru President Martin Vizcarra (left) and Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro during the launch of the Prosur regional initiative at La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, on March 22, 2019. (MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP via Getty Images)
Parmisse Menéndez

The new epicentre of COVID-19 is located in Latin America.

And the response by two nations to the pandemic is a study of contrasts. While Brazil has a president who has not paid much attention to the pandemic, Peru’s president has taken serious measures since the beginning.

Despite different measures taken by each government, however, both countries are now known as the Latin American nations with the most COVID-19 cases.

Carla Ortega, a Peruvian who has lived Brazil for four years, said the situation is difficult because residents are receiving conflicting health and safety guidelines.

Ortega said, on one hand, Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro tells people to go to work. On the other, the country’s governors are telling people to stay at home.

Ortega said quarantining is not mandatory in Brazil. However, she said Sao Paulo’s governor is forcing people to stay at home by reducing the number of trains and buses and closing malls.

Meanwhile, Peru President Martín Vizcarra took swift measures during the pandemic, announcing a state of emergency when the country saw 71 confirmed COVID-19 cases on March 15.

However, a need to work and a lack of financial support from the government has meant many people still went outside, increasing their risks of infection.

Maria Romero, a Peruvian student, said it is difficult for her and her family to stay at home due to financial challenges.

She said they stayed at home until late May in an effort to curb the coronavirus.

But money became an issue and they had to go find work to stay afloat, she said.

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