COVID-19 pandemic in Bolivia
|COVID-19 pandemic in Bolivia|
|First outbreak||Wuhan, Hubei, China|
|Index case||Oruro and Santa Cruz|
|Arrival date||10 March 2020 |
(1 year, 1 month and 7 days)
The COVID-19 pandemic in Bolivia is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The virus was confirmed to have spread to Bolivia on 10 March 2020, when its first two cases were confirmed in the departments of Oruro and Santa Cruz.
On 12 March, Bolivia suspended all public school sessions until 31 March, as well as all commercial flights to and from Europe indefinitely. They also prohibited large-scale public gatherings of more than 1,000 people.
On 12 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, which was reported to the WHO on 31 December 2019.
Measures taken by the government
Before the first case was detected in Bolivia, the government announced that an Emergency Operating Committee had been formed, including officials from the World Health Organization and different ministries and specialized health organizations. Measures implemented with the Pan American Health Organization included support for the implementation of detailed procedures in a guide to the surveillance of unusual respiratory incidents.
The Ministry of Health set up free hotlines at 800-10-1104 and 800-10-1106 to inform people about symptoms and allow them to ask questions about the virus.
- Closure of all borders.
- Entry into Bolivia allowed only for Bolivian nationals and residents, who must follow protocols stipulated by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization.
- All international flights suspended.
- Interdepartmental and interprovincial land transport suspended. Only merchandise can be transported.
On 17 March, the minister of the presidency, Yerko Núñez, declared a public health emergency and arranged a series of quarantine measures, which would be implemented in the entire country until March 31.
Supreme Decree 4196 indicates:
- The Ministry of Labor will, exceptionally, regulate granting of special licenses to protect people with underlying diseases, older adults of age sixty or above, pregnant people, and people under five years old if their parent or guardian has a special license.
- From midnight (00:00) on 20 March to 31 March the country's borders are closed.
- From midnight (00:00) on 21 March international flights are suspended, as are land, river, and lake passenger transportation.
- Effective 18 March the workday for all sectors is from 9:00 to 13:00. Markets and supermarkets are to open 8:00 to 15:00.
- Public and private transportation is to operate 5:00 to 18:00.
- Social sporting, religious, and other activities and gatherings are prohibited.
- Those who violate the decree may be arrested for eight hours.
Decree 4199 – Nationwide quarantine
A nationwide quarantine is in effect from 22 March at midnight (00:00) for 14 days, with the goal of slowing the spread of the virus in the country, under the following orders:
- Markets and supply centers will continue to operate every morning until midday, so that one person from each family can get supplies.
- Factories and transportation serving basic grocery needs will continue functioning normally. The banking system, pharmacies, and hospitals will continue to attend to the needs of the population.
- People may leave their houses if they need medical attention.
- Private and public transport is suspended. Permits will be provided to transport workers whose companies must continue working and for people who work in healthcare, water, electricity, and gas services, among others.
- Electricity prices are reduced. It is prohibited to cut off water, gas, or internet during the quarantine. Tax and loan payments will be eased.
On 30 December 2020, the government of newly elected President Luis Arce signed a contract between Bolivia and Russia to acquire 5.2 million doses of the Sputnik-V vaccine. The vaccine was granted emergency approval and registered by the Bolivian regulator based on the results of Phase III clinical trials in Russia. The first 20,000 doses of the vaccine arrived on 28 January 2021, and Santa Cruz-based nurse Sandra Ríos became the first Bolivian to be vaccinated the next day.
On 30 January 2021, the United Nations announced that 900,000 doses of the Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine and 92,430 doses of the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine will be provided through the COVAX initiative. The COVAX initiative had reportedly agreed to provide Bolivia with 3.6 million vaccine doses from a variety of sources.
In April 2021, Bolivia launched an international campaign to ensure all countries have equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. Foreign Minister Rogelio Mayta said that unless 70 percent of the world's population was vaccinated new variations of the disease will arise and the pandemic "will continue for years".
On 12 March, the government announced seven measures to slow the spread of the disease, including the suspension of educational activities until March 21 in schools and universities and the suspension of flights to and from Europe starting March 14.
As a result of the six confirmed cases, the city of Oruro declared a 14-day quarantine beginning on 16 March. The same day, the government announced that there would be criminal punishments for anyone who sabotaged healthcare, due to incidents of blocking access to healthcare centers for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients. In the city of La Paz, arrests were made of people engaged in price gouging of medical products.
On 14 March, Interim President Jeanine Áñez prohibited anyone coming from China, South Korea, Italy, or Spain to enter the country. Starting on 18 March 2020, this will be extended to cover all of Europe, including Great Britain and Ireland, as well as Iran.
Starting March 16, the departments of Oruro, Potosí, Cochabamba, and Chuquisaca implemented measures to restrict movement, initially to last until March 31, while Tarija prohibited public trips between departments.
On 17 March, President Áñez announced the closure of Bolivia's borders to all foreign nationals – effective as of 19 March. Additionally, as of 20 March, all international flights will be suspended, and domestic travel between departments and provinces will be prohibited.
On 20 March, the government of Santa Cruz declared a quarantine for Porongo, starting at noon and lasting 14 days. The minister of health did not rule out taking measures with greater impact in the coming days.
On 21 March, the government announced a 14-day nationwide quarantine, taking effect on 22 March at midnight and ending on 5 April at midnight.
On 23 March, Áñez released a statement at 13:00 local time confirming the extreme quarantine measures and requesting the support and understanding of the population. She also took the opportunity to commemorate the 141st anniversary of the loss of the Litoral Department and with it Bolivia's sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean. Áñez confirmed the government's unwavering aspiration to recover its sovereign access to the sea.
On 25 March, Áñez declared a public health emergency in the country and completely locked down its borders, with nobody allowed to enter or leave except for health or safety reasons. This will be in effect until 15 April.
- From 3 April, the 'family basket' of Bs. 400 will be paid in cash through banks to the following sectors: those who receive only dignity income but do not receive retirement or other income, the mothers who receive Juana Azurduy voucher and people with disabilities.
- In the second week of April, the 'family voucher' of Bs. 500 will be awarded for families with children in kindergarten, pre-kindergarten and primary school in fiscal schools.
- The price of household gas will be reduced by 50%.
- The postponement of the payment of taxes and credits is ratified, as well as the discounts in the payment of other basic services.
On 8 April, the Minister of Health, Dr. Anibal Cruz, was replaced by Dr. Marcelo Navajas Salinas, a specialist in pulmonology and with experience in public health. Áñez stated that Cruz stepped aside for personal reasons.
On 14 April, Áñez announced the extension of nationwide quarantine until April 30. Other economic measures were also announced including the 'Universal Bonus' of Bs. 500, for people over 18 who have not benefited from any of the previous aid launched by the Government and who are not salaried.
On 29 April, Áñez announced that the total quarantine will remain until May 10 and a 'dynamic' quarantine will be applied, with relaxations on least affected regions from May 11. The borders will remain closed until May 30.
On 28 May, the Bolivian government extended the quarantine until June 30. Starting June 1, Bolivia enters a new quarantine phase, making it more flexible. The highlights of the new measures taken by the government include:
- People will be able to circulate from Monday to Friday from 06:00 to 18:00 and Saturday and Sunday from 06:00 to 14:00.
- The urban transport will be able to return to circulate according to restrictions of plates.
- Churches will be open again only with 30% availability.
Scientists have noted that the level of infections was significantly lower at high altitude, with only 507 cases reported in the La Paz Department by May 31 with most of Bolivia's 9,982 cases centered on Santa Cruz Department.
Total confirmed cases Active Cases Recoveries Deaths
New cases per day
Recoveries per day
Deaths per day
Regional distribution of cases
A sixty-five-year-old woman in Oruro was one of the first patients known to be infected with the coronavirus. Six other infected patients in Oruro and one in Cochabamba, as confirmed through tests by 12 March, were in contact with her. This was the first known instance of local transmission in Bolivia. The city and department began mandatory social distancing measures on 16 March. A further 65 contacts and family members of those were infected were confined to their homes, but showed no symptoms of the disease. As of 25 March, the first Oruro patient was no longer showing symptoms and had tested negative for the disease twice; doctors expect her to be declared Bolivia's first recovered COVID-19 patient.
The first case to be tested positive in Potosí was announced on 25 March. Regional health authorities that this patient is a 69-year-old woman. She was infected by her son, a transport driver who had recently been in Chile. The driver had not disclosed his symptoms and was, according to the health authorities, treated privately by family members who are physicians.
Impacts and incidents
Following the announcement of the first confirmed case, incidents were reported among the local population, including large-scale purchasing of surgical masks and hand sanitizer and blocking access to hospitals. On 19 March a patient under observation who was required to stay in isolation tried to escape but was caught when he tried to take a trip between departments. Operations were suspended at San Cristóbal mine.
Bolivia's health minister Marcelo Navajas has been arrested on suspicion of corruption related to the over-priced purchase of ventilators to fight COVID-19. Bolivia bought 179 ventilators from a Spanish manufacturer for $27,683 each, costing almost $5 million. It later transpired that the manufacturer was offering ventilators for 9,500-11,000 euros each ($10,312-$11,941).
In May, key witness, businessman Luis Fernando Humérez, was taken into preventive custody following communications he made with legal director of the Ministry of Health, Fernando Valenzuela seeking "a way out". Humérez was able to connect for prosecutors, the health minister to Iñaqui García, a representative of the respirator supplier, GPA Innova, among others. Prosecutors for the case also demonstrated multiple calls between Evo Morales and Humérez intermingled with conversations with other defendants. However, Humérez claims these conversations were only to pacify tensions in the country. With over 2 dozen calls between Humérez and masista leaders, including Morales and Orlando Zurita, prosecutors Arturo has postulated this may be less a controversy of corruption, and one of conspiracy against the current government. In addition to Humérez, Valenzuela, Giovani Pacheco, the director of the agency tasked with procuring medical equipment, as well as two Inter-American Development Bank advisors have been arrested.
Despite these arrests, the Bolivian mixed commission of investigation continues to search for reasons that explain how this could have happened, and has issued summons across levels of the Bolivian government. Among those asked for there testimony are Bolivian Minister Karen Longaric and Harvard scientist, Mohammed Mostajo-Radji, the Bolivian Ambassador for Science, Innovation, and Technology to the UN. While, no criminal charges were levied against Mostajo-Radji, inconsistencies between his earlier testimony where he claimed complete ignorance of the purchase, and public statements in April where he claimed responsibility for overseeing the purchases of the respirators led prosecutors to ask for further information. However, in spite of these calls from prosecutors, and the continuing pandemic, Mostajo-Radji left Bolivia for the United States in June 2020 and has yet to testify. Allies of Evo Morales accused the interim president of protecting the young scientist who was rumored to be involved with Áñez's daughter; allegations which both Áñez and Mostajo-Radji deny.
In August 2020, it was revealed that an additional 324 respirators, purchased from China through Amgen were also bought with a surchage ($35,000 for machines that cost $18,000) and contained numerous defects. In response, the prosecutor's office announced investigations into both the ambassador, Mostajo-Radji, as well as the Minister of Health, Eidy Roca. Unlike the Spanish respirators, these were part of the 500 Mostajo-Radji had announced in April were purchased by Bolivia.
- @MinSaludBolivia (10 March 2020). "#ULTIMO" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "Confirman los dos primeros casos de coronavirus en Bolivia". Los Tiempos (in Spanish). 10 March 2020. Retrieved 11 March 2020.
- "Gobierno suspende clases hasta el 31 de marzo y todos los vuelos europeos desde el sábado". Los Tiempos (in Spanish). 12 March 2020. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
- Elsevier. "Novel Coronavirus Information Center". Elsevier Connect. Archived from the original on 30 January 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
- Reynolds, Matt (4 March 2020). "What is coronavirus and how close is it to becoming a pandemic?". Wired UK. ISSN 1357-0978. Archived from the original on 5 March 2020. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
- "Crunching the numbers for coronavirus". Imperial News. Archived from the original on 19 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
- "High consequence infectious diseases (HCID); Guidance and information about high consequence infectious diseases and their management in England". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 3 March 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
- "World Federation Of Societies of Anaesthesiologists – Coronavirus". www.wfsahq.org. Archived from the original on 12 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
- "Ministerio de Salud conforma comité intersectorial para detectar posibles casos sospechosos de coronavirus" (in Spanish).
- "OPS apoya a Bolivia en su preparación de la respuesta al coronavirus" (in Spanish).
- "Gobierno habilita línea gratuita 800-10-1104 para consultas sobre el coronavirus" (in Spanish).
- Jeanine Áñez Chávez (17 March 2020). "Decreto Supremo N° 4196" (PDF). Bolivia Segura. Government of Bolivia. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
- "Coronavirus: Bolivia cierra fronteras, restringe transporte terrestre, suspende vuelos y reduce jornada laboral" (in Spanish).
- "Coronavirus en Bolivia: 15 casos, cuarentena parcial y reducción de la jornada laboral". Clarín (in Spanish). 19 March 2020. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
- "Gobierno presenta D.S 4196 de emergencia sanitaria y cuarentena Nacional".
- "La presidenta Jeanine Áñez confirma cuarentena en el país desde el domingo" (in Spanish).
- "Piden que Arce y Choquehuanca sean los primeros en usar la vacuna Sputnik-V". www.paginasiete.bo (in Spanish). Retrieved 6 January 2021.
- Reuters Staff (6 January 2021). "Russia says Bolivia has registered Sputnik V vaccine". Reuters. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
- Peñaranda, Aylin (29 January 2021). "Sandra Ríos, enfermera de Santa Cruz, es la primera vacunada en el país contra el COVID-19". La Razón. Retrieved 29 January 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Ramos, Danny (13 January 2021). "Bolivia signs contract with India's Serum Institute for 5 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses". Reuters. Retrieved 29 January 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "ONU informa que Bolivia recibirá 900.000 dosis de AstraZeneca y 92.430 de la vacuna de Pfizer". Los Tiempos. 30 January 2021. Retrieved 31 January 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Bolivia inició una campaña internacional para liberar las patentes de vacunas | La propuesta del canciller Rogelio Mayta busca garantizar un acceso equitativo". Pagina12 (in Spanish). 14 April 2021. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
- "Bolivia suspende clases y vuelos desde y hacia Europa por coronavirus" (in Spanish). 12 March 2020.
- "Gobierno determina suspensión de clases, y vuelos desde y hacia Europa". Página Siete (in Spanish). 12 March 2020. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
- "Áñez suspende clases en todo el país y cierra el espacio aéreo a vuelos de Europa". Opinión (in Spanish). 12 March 2020. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
- "Coronavirus: declaran cuarentena de 14 días en la ciudad de Oruro". Los Tiempos (in Spanish). 13 March 2020. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
- "Gobierno boliviano aplicará el "peso" de la ley a quienes saboteen la atención sanitaria" (in Spanish).
- "Dos comerciantes de La Paz serán sentenciados por agio de insumos de higiene" (in Spanish).
- @JeanineAnez (14 March 2020). "He ordenado que se prohíba la entrada a Bolivia de pasajeros procedentes de China, Corea, Italia y España. Esta decisión es parte del paquete de medidas firmes con las cuales luchamos contra el virus para proteger la salud de la gente" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "Áñez lanza horario continuo y más prohibiciones para frenar Covid-19". Los Tiempos (in Spanish). 16 March 2020. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
- "Coronavirus: Bolivia prohibió reuniones de más de 100 personas y los vuelos desde Europa e Irán". Infobae (in Spanish). 15 March 2020. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
- "Cinco regiones se aíslan del virus y el Gobierno hace esperar sus medidas" (in Spanish).
- "Bolivia cierra fronteras, suspende vuelos y limita el transporte terrestre por el coronavirus". Los Tiempos (in Spanish). 17 March 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
- "Porongo entra en cuarentena por 14 días" (in Spanish).
- "Bolivia podría tomar medidas de mayor impacto por "alta probabilidad" de transmisión comunitaria del Covid-19" (in Spanish).
- "Gobierno dispone cuarentena total por el Covid-19 en Bolivia". Los Tiempos (in Spanish). 21 March 2020. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
- "En el dia del mar Añez, perfila estrategia de diálogo, con firmeza para volver al Pacífico". La razón (La Paz, Bolivia) (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 26 March 2020. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
- "Bolivia decreta estado de emergencia sanitaria y cierre total de fronteras por el Covid-19". Los Tiempos (in Spanish). 25 March 2020. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
- "Los 11 puntos centrales del anuncio de la presidenta Jeanine Áñez este martes | EL DEBER". eldeber.com.bo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 April 2020.
- "Áñez anuncia que "canasta familiar" será de Bs 400 y se pagará desde el viernes". Los Tiempos (in Spanish). 31 March 2020. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
- "President appoints new minister of health". www.presidencia.gob.bo (in Spanish). 8 April 2020.
- "Añez amplía el Bono Familia a estudiantes de secundaria y confirma pago desde el 15". La Razón | Noticias de Bolivia y el Mundo. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
- "Bolivia amplía la cuarentena hasta el 30 de abril | EL DEBER". eldeber.com.bo (in Spanish). Retrieved 15 April 2020.
- "Gobierno decide mantener la cuarentena total hasta el 10 de mayo y flexibilizarla regionalmente desde el día 11 | EL DEBER". eldeber.com.bo (in Spanish). Retrieved 1 May 2020.
- Bolivia, Opinión. "Gobierno flexibiliza la cuarentena desde el 1 de junio y prevé circulación de 5:00 a 18:00". Opinión Bolivia (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 June 2020.
- Tegel, Simeon (31 May 2020). "From the Andes to Tibet, the coronavirus seems to be sparing populations at high altitudes". The Washington Post.
- "BOLIVIA: POBLACIÓN ESTIMADA Y PROYECTADA POR DEPARTAMENTO, SEGÚN AÑOS CALENDARIO, 2000-2025". Instituto Nacional de Estadística (in Spanish). Retrieved 7 July 2020.
- Ortiz Duran, Deisy; Mendieta, Leyla. "Los casos de coronavirus suben a 10 y confirman transmisión local". El Deber (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 March 2020.
- "Sedes de Oruro: Encapsulamos casos positivos para frenar el contagio". eju.tv (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 March 2020.
- Cambara Ferrufino, Cesar (25 March 2020). "Segunda prueba a paciente cero resulta negativa; se alista su alta médica". El Deber (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 March 2020.
- "Potosí: "Paciente cero" es un transportista que ocultó sus síntomas". Opinión Bolivia (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 March 2020.
- Cambara Ferrufino, Pablo Cesar (13 March 2020). "No todas las personas deben usar barbijos, sepa cuándo y cómo utilizarlos". El Deber. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
- Cabrera, Ulises (17 March 2020). "Ministro dice que barbijos de tela no sirven, pero ambulantes los comercializan" (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 March 2020.
- "Suspenden bloqueo en la ruta a Warnes por la apertura de un centro de atención para pacientes con coronavirus". El Deber (in Spanish). 13 March 2020. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
- Alanoca Paco, Jesus Reynaldo (19 March 2020). "Procesarán a sospechoso de coronavirus que huyó cuando debía estar en cuarentena". El Deber (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 March 2020.
- "Sumitomo halts mines in Bolivia, Madagascar". 26 March 2020. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
- "Bolivia health minister arrested for corruption over ventilators". The Telegraph. 20 May 2020.
- "Bolivia's health minister has been arrested on corruption charges for overspending millions on ventilators that don't even work right". Business Insider. 21 May 2020.
- "Respiradores: El "testigo clave" planeaba fugarse antes del estallido del caso". Correo del Sur (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 July 2020.
- "Respiradores: Humérez confirma que habló con Evo - Diario Pagina Siete". www.paginasiete.bo (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 July 2020.
- "Caso respiradores: Gobierno denuncia que Valenzuela se contactó con Gabriela Montaño - Diario Pagina Siete". www.paginasiete.bo (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 July 2020.
- "Caso respiradores: Comisión legislativa cita a nueve ex y actuales autoridades | EL DEBER". eldeber.com.bo (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 July 2020.
- "Mohammed Mostajo-Radji es incluido en la investigación por el caso 'respiradores' | EL DEBER". eldeber.com.bo (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- "Caso respiradores: Procuraduría halló contradicciones en versión de Mostajo | EL DEBER". eldeber.com.bo (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 July 2020.
- "Denuncia contra Mostajo es derivada de Santa Cruz a La Paz". Correo del Sur (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 July 2020.
- "Fiscalía cita a Mohammed Mostajo para declarar este viernes". Erbol (in Spanish). 1 July 2020. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- "Mostajo no se presenta a declarar y su abogado denuncia "linchamiento mediático"". Exito Noticias (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- "RIT Rallies: Biotechnology alumnus helping Bolivia respond to COVID-19 pandemic".
- "Gobierno anuncia que obtendrá 450.000 pruebas para detectar Covid-19 de compras y donaciones". Los Tiempos (in Spanish). 15 April 2020. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- "Caso respiradores: Procuraduría halló contradicciones en versión de Mostajo | EL DEBER". eldeber.com.bo (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 July 2020.
- "Mostajo sobre respiradores: Declaré como testigo, no tengo vela en ese entierro - Diario Pagina Siete". www.paginasiete.bo (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- "Mostajo no se presenta a declarar y su abogado denuncia "linchamiento mediático"". Exito Noticias (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 July 2020.
- "Intocable Mostajo, ¿mucho que ver o nada en el escándalo de los respiradores?". La Razón | Noticias de Bolivia y el Mundo. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- "Los hijos de Añez y el embajador Mostajo fugaron a EEUU, denuncia Evo Morales". Plurinacional (in Spanish). 17 June 2020. Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- "Defensa de Mostajo advierte con procesar a quienes mellaron la dignidad de su cliente". Correo del Sur (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 July 2020.
- "Fiscalía admite la denuncia por presuntas irregularidades en la compra de respiradores chinos | EL DEBER". eldeber.com.bo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 September 2020.
- "Mohammed Mostajo: "He salido del país porque puedo hacerlo cuando quiera porque no tengo ningún lío con la ley" | EL DEBER". eldeber.com.bo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2 September 2020.