Responses to COVID-19 in Five Countries of Latin America

91 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2020 Last revised: 21 Aug 2020

See all articles by María Alejandra Benítez

María Alejandra Benítez

Centro de Estudios Públicos

Carolina Velasco

Centro de Estudios Publicos

Ana Rita Sequeira

Murdoch University

Josefa Henriquez

University of Bologna

Flavio M. Menezes

University of Queensland - School of Economics

Francesco Paolucci

University of Newcastle (Australia) - Newcastle Business School

Date Written: June 30, 2020

Abstract

Background: COVID-19 reached Latin-American countries slightly later than European countries, around February/March, allowing some emergency preparedness response in countries characterized by low health system capacities and socioeconomic disparities.

Objective: This paper focuses on the first months of the pandemic in five Latin American countries: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. It analyses how the pre-pandemic context, and the government's responses in terms of containment and mitigation and economic measures have affected the COVID-19 health outcomes.

Methods: Extensive qualitative document analysis was conducted focused on publicly-available epidemiological data and federal and state/regional policy documents since the beginning of the pandemic.

Results: The countries were quick to implement stringent COVID-19 measures and incrementally scaled up their health systems capacity, although tracing and tracking have been poor. All five countries have experienced a large number of cases and deaths due to COVID-19. The analysis on the excess deaths also shows that the impact in deaths is far higher than the official numbers reported to date for some countries.

Conclusion: Despite the introduction of stringent measures of containment and mitigation, and the scale up of health system capacities, pre-pandemic conditions that characterize these countries (high informal employment, and social inequalities) have undermined the effectiveness of the countries’ responses to the pandemic. The economic support measures put in place were found to be too timid for some countries and introduced too late in most of them. Additionally, the lack of a comprehensive strategy for testing and tracking has also contributed to the failure to contain the spread of the virus.

Note: Funding: None to declare

Declaration of Interest: None to declare

Keywords: Latin America, pandemic, COVID-19, health, measures, response

JEL Classification: I14, I15, I18

Suggested Citation

Benítez, María Alejandra and Velasco, Carolina and Sequeira, Ana Rita and Henriquez, Josefa and Menezes, Flavio M. and Paolucci, Francesco, Responses to COVID-19 in Five Countries of Latin America (June 30, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3663292 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3663292

María Alejandra Benítez (Contact Author)

Centro de Estudios Públicos ( email )

Monseñor Nuncio Sótero Sánz 162
Providencia
Santiago, Santiago 7500011
Chile
+56 22 328 2400 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.cepchile.cl/

Carolina Velasco

Centro de Estudios Publicos ( email )

Monsenor Sotero Sanz 175
Providencia
Santiago
Chile

Ana Rita Sequeira

Murdoch University ( email )

South Street
Australia
Perth, 6105
Australia

Josefa Henriquez

University of Bologna ( email )

Piazza Scaravilli 2
Bologna, 40100
Italy

Flavio M. Menezes

University of Queensland - School of Economics ( email )

Brisbane, QLD 4072
Australia

Francesco Paolucci

University of Newcastle (Australia) - Newcastle Business School ( email )

City Campus East – 231
Newcastle-Upon-Tyne NE1 8ST, NE1 8ST
Australia

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