When many saw Uruguay As an exception to the epidemic in Latin America, with contagion by apparently controlled coronaviruses, physician Julio Medina issued a warning.
Regarding his infectious disease on 29 November in the Universitid de la Republika (Udelaar), the Professor of Infectious Diseases said, “We are going to lose our privilege.”
Less than four months later, the country’s situation took a turn in the worst direction.
Uruguay overtook Brazil on Sunday and, according to 7-day moving average data available on our World in Data platform, Kovid-19 became the Latin American country with the number of new cases per million inhabitants.
The indicator peaked at 335.66 against 314.5 in Brazil. Chile, which is also upward in cases of the disease, has 266.77 diagnoses per million inhabitants.
Although positions in the rankings may fluctuate from one day to the next, the development of the situation in Uruguay has been worrying for experts.
Since the onset of the epidemic a year ago, the country reached record volumes of new cases, active cases and hospitalized patients in intensive care units (ICUs).
According to the standards established by Harvard University (from 25 cases), as an average of 33.51 cases per 100 thousand residents a week, it is in the so-called red risk zone.
“We are in the worst moment of the pandemic in our country, the next few weeks will be very difficult,” says Medina in an interview with BBC News Mundo, the BBC’s Spanish-language service.
Uruguay began vaccination in late February – Photo: Getty Images / BBC
‘Mortgage of your success’
Uruguay still outperforms its neighbors in some epidemic indicators. With less than 3.5 million inhabitants, Kovid-19 accounted for 712 deaths on Monday (15), according to the Johns Hopkins University database.
According to the data portal in our world, the latency rate observed in countries with similar populations such as Costa Rica, Panama and Paraguay is around 1%, the lowest in Latin America and lower.
The country also has relatively low deaths per million inhabitants, another metric used to compare regions and countries.
In late February, it became the second Latin American country with the highest dose dose per 100 people (5.9), behind Chile (34.5), despite being one of the last countries in the region to receive vaccines against the disease. .
The Uruguay health system has not yet been under pressure in the midst of a health crisis.
Uruguay was gaining attention for its particular tactics in the face of an epidemic without a mandatory statement.
President Louis Laclede defined the approach as a “responsible freedom”: he told the population to stay home, but he avoided strict controls used in other countries with supervision by police and security forces.
As the Uruguayans were following the recommendations and the virus was under control, by April 2020, the government gradually resumed activities, until construction, commerce, restaurants and face-to-face classes were disrupted by the epidemic .
However, the first wave of fingering took a breather at the end of the year and, according to experts, causes problems at the beginning of the year.
Part of the explanation for the picture is attributed to the behavior of the population, who have been interacting more towards the end of the year since the summer holidays.
“Sometimes you’re held hostage to your success: things were going well, people relaxed – that explains a good part of what’s happening”, Medina explains.
He says this is also due to the proliferation of a coronavirus variant identified in Brazil in January, called P1, and is more transitive, which enters Uruguay through the land border between countries.
Although the government has partially closed the borders, it is difficult to achieve secession in border cities where only one road marks where one country ends and where another begins.
“We are confident that he (P1) should be in the country, we are yet to demonstrate it”, explains the infectious expert.
If the suspicion is confirmed, “it means that the measures we are taking to contain the epidemic are no longer as efficient, and require some hardening”.
The Government of Uruguay meets with its Council of Ministers on Tuesday (16) to analyze the situation.
For now, it has already decided to ask the Legislature to increase the restrictions imposed on the gathering of people, as stated by the local press.
Until last week, President Lockley was opposed to the adoption of more restrictive measures, such as the circulation of automobiles.
In February, Grupo Asesor Científico Honorario (Gach), formed by experts and part of which Medina is advising the government on the epidemic, recommended limiting social ceremonies and non-essential activities.
On Monday, various experts publicly called for further measures.
“Unlike the fable of the race between the Hare and the Turtle, here she will not sleep alone. It is now that we must kill her, reduce her mobility with new measures and, thus, reach the goal”. He made it clear in a tweet by virologist Gonzalo Moratorio at the Pasteur Institute in Montevideo.
Nephrologist Oscar Noboa stated in the same network that “measures without every minute result in very high costs for patients and those with whom they had contact”.
“Reality no longer allows us to be optimistic. It is a race between an increase in cases and the rate of vaccination. There are disputes this month (between now and mid-April). [algo como] Decisive. It is necessary to adopt drastic measures, although they do not like them ”, tweeted Oscar Ventura, professor at the University of Chemistry, Gündher.
Uruguay, like other countries, has also adopted a special immunization scheme without a focus on the elderly.
This decision was made because the country received the first vaccine from the Chinese laboratory Synovac, which according to local experts, lacked clinical trials in people over 60 years of age to determine its effectiveness in this group.
In countries such as Brazil, the decision to use an immunization agent in the elderly was shown to be due to the ability to avoid hospitalization and more severe cases of Kovid-19 in people in the group, even without extensive studies on the level of safety in the elderly , Which is most vulnerable to this disease.
In another, the government announced that it would start vaccinating people between the ages of 50 and 70, but it is not yet known when its vaccination will begin with doses from other laboratories between the ages of 70 and 75 .
However, Medina predicts that even with high rates of vaccination at this time, Uruguay will continue to go through a difficult time.
“This is not going to help us in this phase of intensifying the epidemic,” he warns. “It will help us later.”
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