Latin America is facing a new wave of massive coronavirus infections due to the rapid spread of the new Omicrom variant. Faced with this situation, the authorities of the countries are looking for softer alternatives than the restrictions and quarantines, taken in the past.
A fact that accounts for the current panorama in the region is that in Latin America and the Caribbean, the average number of new cases last week was 304,000, almost double what was reported in the previous wave (155,000). Although the deaths are lower than in previous waves, these numbers have especially shaken the health systems of some countries. In Brazil, ten states have raised the alarm for the occupation of intensive care beds (ICU). For its part, in Peru, last Thursday they warned that 72% of ICU pediatric beds were occupied.
In addition, the massive nature of infections presents new challenges, such as the growing difficulties in accessing tests due to the high demand. Mexico has witnessed this avalanche of infections: in the last 14 days, 220,000 Mexicans have tested positive for Covid -including its president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador- which has meant that long lines of patients have formed that surrounded the health centers where tests are offered free of charge.
Governments continue to focus on vaccination policy as the main tool against the pandemic. Currently, countries are concentrating on promoting booster doses, an example of this is Chile, which authorized the application of a fourth inoculation for those over 12 years of age who are immunocompromised. Although the campaigns also target the unvaccinated, with the imposition of health cards to enter public places, a policy that differs in its application but is generalized in the region. In this sense, starting last Thursday in Colombia, companies that have workers exposed to the public must require their employees to have the full vaccination schedule.
Bolivia is another country that implemented the health pass for public spaces, but had to temporarily suspend it after the vaccination centers collapsed due to demand. In addition, the countries face serious problems of work absenteeism generated by the high levels of infection. For this reason, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay and Argentina, among others, have reduced the days of isolation for infected people and close contacts.