South American countries took different approaches to the novel coronavirus pandemic, and with three months gone by since the COVID crisis began to be taken seriously in the continent, it’s a good time to assess the first results.
The two countries that opted for no lockdown, Chile and Brazil, are among the four that have suffered most deaths per capita in the continent. But they are not alone in that, as Ecuador and Perú have also seen dramatic results, all of them with more than 200 registered COVID deaths per million inhabitants. Real figures could double that, with deaths from unknown respiratory diseases in Brazil being counted by the tens of thousands this year.
The most successful examples so far are Uruguay and Paraguay, with very few deaths per capita. Uruguay is notable for being the only other South American country that did not go into a full lockdown, although the government recommended (but did not mandate) shops to close and strict social distancing to be respected. Anecdotal reports suggest the population followed this guidelines quite strictly. With cases plummeting, the country is now even re-opening some of its nightlife, something that seems completely unfeasible in the rest of the continent.
Venezuela reports even lower numbers than Uruguay and Paraguay so far, but its figures are not seen as very reliable, with the government even initiating inquiries against medical associations who question them, in a country whose public health system collapsed long before the pandemic even started.