COVID-19 pandemic in South America

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COVID-19 pandemic in South America
COVID-19 cases by territories of the countries of South America.svg
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
LocationSouth America
First outbreakWuhan, China
Index caseSão Paulo, Brazil
Arrival date26 February 2020
(1 year, 1 month, 2 weeks and 3 days ago)
Confirmed cases21,510,093[1]

The COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed to have reached South America on 26 February 2020 when Brazil confirmed a case in São Paulo.[2] By 3 April, all countries and territories in South America had recorded at least one case.[3]

On 13 May, it was reported that Latin America and the Caribbean had reported over 400,000 cases of COVID-19 infection with, 23,091 deaths. On 22 May, citing the rapid increase of infections in Brazil, the World Health Organization declared South America the epicentre of the pandemic.[4][5]

As of 16 March 2021, South America had recorded 19,446,936 confirmed cases and 503,030 deaths from COVID-19. Due to a shortage of testing and medical facilities, it is believed that the outbreak is far larger than the official numbers show.[6]

Pandemic by country and territory[edit]

Summary table of confirmed cases in South America (as of 10 April 2021)[7]
Country/Territory Cases Deaths Recoveries Ref
Brazil 13,373,174 348,718 11,722,181 [8][9]
Colombia 2,504,206 65,283 2,365,566 [10]
Argentina 2,497,881 57,350 2,203,926 [11]
Peru 1,628,519 54,285 1,547,807 [12][13]
Chile 1,060,421 24,108 991,676 [14][15]
Ecuador 342,678 17,158 290,314 [16][17]
Bolivia 280,649 12,428 230,021 [7][18]
Paraguay 232,142 4,698 189,971 [19]
Venezuela 172,461 1,739 155,662 [7][20]
Uruguay 137,946 1,363 104,241 [7][21]
French Guiana 16529 83 9995 [7]
Suriname 9,265 178 8,647 [22]
Guyana 10,958 252 9,576 [7]
Falkland Islands 16529 83 9995 [7][23]
Total 22,266,883 587,643 19,829,626

South America and Latin America[edit]

On 26 June 2020, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South America surpassed 2 million while the United States had about 2.4 million. However, a month later on 26 July 2020, if Mexico and key areas in Central America and the Caribbean are included, then the total in Latin America (4.27 million) has surpassed the total in the United States (4.25 million).

Summary table of confirmed cases in Latin America (selected regions as of 3 April 2021)[7]
Countries and territories Cases Deaths Recoveries[a] Population
(in millions)
South America 21,510,093 563,197 19,154,338 430 [7]
Mexico Mexico 2,249,195 204,011 1,765,244 128 [7]
Panama Panama 356,073 6,131 345,120 4 [7]
Dominican Republic Dominican Republic 254,136 3,341 213,725 11 [7]
Costa Rica Costa Rica 216,764 2,957 192,699 5 [7]
Guatemala Guatemala 195,239 6,884 179,398 17 [7]
Honduras Honduras 190,142 4,633 73,308 10 [7]
Total 24,971,642 791,154 21,923,832 605 [7]

Comparison of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US, South America, and selected regions in Latin America (figures in millions are rounded-off):

Date   USA   South America Latin America
Jul 30 4.6 3.9 4.7
Aug 10 5.1 4.8 5.5
Aug 20 5.6 5.5   6.4[24]
Aug 30 6.0 6.2 7.2
Sep 10 6.5 6.9 8.0
Sep 20 6.9 7.5 8.7
COVID-19 pandemic cases in Argentina


The COVID-19 pandemic in Argentina is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). On 3 March 2020, the virus was confirmed to have spread to Argentina.[25][26][27][28] As of 11 April 2021 a total of 2,532,502 people were confirmed to have been infected, and 57,779 people were known to have died because of the virus.[29] On 7 March 2020, the Ministry of Health confirmed the country's first documented death, a 64-year-old man who had travelled to Paris, France, who also had other health conditions; the case was only confirmed as positive after the patient's demise.[30]

On 19 March 2020 a nation-wide lockdown was established in Argentina.[31][32] The government later extended the lockdown to mid April,[33] then 26 April;[34] and on 25 April, President Alberto Fernández announced that the lockdown would be extended in major cities until 10 May.[35] The lockdown was lifted throughout all the country, excepting the Greater Buenos Aires urban area (where 31.9% of the country's population live),[36] on 10 May, with Greater Buenos Aires locked down until 24 May,[37] later extended to 7 June,[38] and then 28 June, after a big jump in the number of new cases in this area.[39] On 26 June, Fernández announced that the restrictions on movement in this area that were previously eased would be tightened again until 17 July due to a large spike in cases on the previous days.[40] Finally, on 17 July, the lockdown was due to be gradually loosened in several stages to lead to the return to normality,[41] although restrictions were extended several times until 8 November 2020.[42]

Responses to the outbreak have included restrictions on commerce and movement, closure of borders, and the closure of schools and educational institutions.[43] Clusters of infections and deaths have occurred in nursing homes, prisons and other detention centers, and urban areas.[44][45] The number of tests increased over time, although there were some concerns as there was less testing than in other countries of the region such as Chile and Peru.[46] Even so, the government's responses to the pandemic were among the best received by the population in the region during the early stages of the pandemic.[47]


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.[48][49]

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.[50]


Map of the outbreak in Brazil by confirmed cases, as of 6 March 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil is part of the ongoing 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 Brazil on 25 February 2020,[51] when a man from São Paulo tested positive for the virus. The disease had spread to every federative unit of Brazil by 21 March. On 19 June 2020, the country reported its 1 millionth case; at this time, there had been nearly 49,000 reported deaths.[52][53] As of 25 March 2021, Brazil, with more than 12 million confirmed cases and over 300,000 deaths, has the second-highest number of confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 in the world, behind only the United States.

The pandemic has triggered a variety of responses from federal, state and local governments, having an impact on politics, education, the environment,[54] and the economy. On 27 March 2020 Brazil announced a temporary ban on foreign air travelers[55] and most state governors have imposed quarantines to prevent the spread of the virus.[56]


The COVID-19 pandemic in Chile 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 reached Chile on 3 March 2020.[57] While initial cases had been imported from Southeast Asia and Europe, they have since expanded into a sizeable quantity of untraceable infections, placing the country within phase 4 of the pandemic as defined by the World Health Organization, and surpassing one thousand confirmed cases on 25 March 2020.

The cases are concentrated in the Santiago metropolitan area, with outbreaks in other regions in the country. No national lockdown was established in Chile, unlike in neighboring Argentina and Peru, although a night curfew was implemented throughout the country. Quarantines were established locally in different cities and neighborhoods. However, in May 2020, the whole city of Santiago was put under mandatory quarantine due to an increase of cases and similar situations were extended to most of the largest cities in Chile.

Considering its population, Chile has one of the worst outbreaks in the world,[58] with more than 54,000 cases and 1,600 deaths per million inhabitants.[59] Initially, the number of fatalities reported was lower than other countries in South America, even with less cases. However, in May 2020, the number of cases and deaths increased rapidly, while several sources reported additional numbers of excess deaths which were not counted.[60][61] By June 2020, the government confirmed thousands of additional deaths due to COVID-19, including suspected cases where PCR tests were not available.[62] The pandemic reached its apparent peak on 13 June with 195 daily confirmed deaths and nearly 7,000 positive cases.[59] By July 2020, the number of deceased surpassed 10,000 people and Chile became the sixth largest number of cases in the world.[63][64] In the following weeks, the number of daily cases and deaths started to decrease slowly, although some local outbreaks appeared. The number of cases increased later in the year and by March 2021, the number of daily cases even surpassed the initial wave.[65]

Chile became one of the first countries to start a nationwide program to vaccinate against COVID-19. On 24 December 2020, the first batch of vaccines arrived in the country to inoculate mainly health workers.[66] With larger batches of vaccines (mainly Sinovac's CoronaVac) arriving since February 2021, Chile became one of the fastest countries in the world to inoculate their population. By March 2021, a quarter of its population had received at least one dose. The main reasons behind these feat include signing contracts with multiple providers, a strong public immunization program and a small anti-vaccine sentiment.[67] The success of the vaccination program, however, contrasted with the increasing number of cases, due to early relaxation of restrictions and a false sense of security.[68][69][70]

The impact of the pandemic has been great in the South American country. In March 2020, when the first cases of COVID-19 were reported, the country was still facing protests and riots[b] that had begun in October 2019, and the pandemic affected the scheduled 2020 Chilean national plebiscite, which was rescheduled and held later in the year. Partial lockdowns and quarantines were established in the first months, hitting the economy of the country. By April 2020, unemployment had reached 9%, a record-high level in the past 10 years.[72][73] A wave of protests sparked in late May, mainly in Santiago, due to food shortages in certain sectors of the population.[74] The Chilean GDP shrunk by a 5.8% in 2020, the largest recession in 40 years in the country.[75]


The COVID-19 pandemic in Colombia 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 reached Colombia on 6 March 2020.[76][77] From 17 March to 1 September, Colombia denied entry to those who were not Colombian citizens, permanent residents or diplomats,[78] and as of 30 September 2020, a negative PCR test result issued within 96 hours prior to departure is required to enter the country by air. Sea borders reopened on 1 December 2020.[79] Land and river borders remain closed until at least 1 June 2021.[80]


Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ecuador

On 29 February, the Minister of Health in Ecuador, Catalina Andramuño, confirmed the first case of the virus in the country.[81] The patient, a woman in her 70s, Ecuadorian citizen who resides in Spain, had arrived to Guayaquil on 14 February.[81]

On 1 March, Andramuño announced that five new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Ecuador.[82]

As of 31 March, there have been 2240 confirmed cases, plus 75 deaths linked to COVID-19. The Health Ministry also reported 61 deaths probably related to COVID-19.[83]

Ecuador was described in April as emerging as the "epicentre" of the pandemic in Latin America.[3] The Guayas Province was particularly strongly affected, with thousand of excess deaths reported compared to the figure for a normal period.[84] It was reported on 17 April that 10,939 people had died in six weeks since the start of March in the Guayas Province, compared to a normal figure of 3,000 for the province.[85]

Falkland Islands[edit]

On 3 April 2020, the British Overseas Territory of the Falkland Islands confirmed its first case on 3 April 2020.[86] Furthermore, as a precaution, the islands' government has closed all schools and nurseries until 4 May.[87] As of 30 April, all 13 cases have recovered.[88]

French Guiana[edit]

On 4 March 2020, the first 5 cases were found the French overseas department and region of French Guiana,[89] and the first death was announced on 20 April 2020.[90]


Cases per million by region as of 30 April 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic in Guyana 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 reached Guyana on 11 March 2020. The first case was a woman who travelled from New York,[91] a 52-year-old woman suffering from underlying health conditions, including diabetes and hypertension.[92] The woman died at the Georgetown Public Hospital.[93]


On 7 March the first confirmed case in Paraguay was announced, a 32-year-old Paraguayan who arrived from Ecuador.[94]

On 10 March, Paraguay suspended public school sessions and large-scale public events for 15 days due to the coronavirus.[95]

On 13 March, Paraguay suspended flights coming from Europe.[96]


The COVID-19 pandemic in Peru 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 reported to have spread to Peru on 6 March 2020, when a 25-year-old man who had travelled to Spain, France, and the Czech Republic tested positive.[97] On 15 March 2020, President Martín Vizcarra announced a country-wide lockdown, closing borders, restricting domestic travel, and forbidding nonessential business operations, excluding health facilities, food vendors, pharmacies, and financial institutions.

Peru, with a total population of 32 million,[98] has a total of 1,002 intensive care unit (ICU) beds available as of May 2020,[99] and was working on expanding its nationwide ventilator stock from 40 to a desired 540 machines. Engineering and production are supplied by the Peruvian Armed Forces.[100] As of June 2020, oxygen was in short supply.[101]


On 13 March 2020, Vice President Ashwin Adhin announced the first confirmed case in the country.[102]

On 3 April, the first death was announced.[103]

On 3 May, all remaining COVID-19 cases recovered.[104]

On 18 May, an eleventh case was identified.[105]

On 11 August, President Santokhi announced a series of measures requiring the use of face masks, reducing operating practices of restaurants, and prohibiting groups of 5 or people from gathering except for work, education, religious gatherings and funerals. A national curfew would be in place from 21:00 to 5:00 everyday until 23 August.[106]


Departments of Uruguay with confirmed COVID-19 cases (as of 22 March 2021)
  Confirmed 1~4
  Confirmed 5~9
  Confirmed 10~49
  Confirmed 50~99
  Confirmed 100~499
  Confirmed 500~999
  Confirmed 1000~4999
  Confirmed 10000~49999

The COVID-19 pandemic in Uruguay is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first cases in Uruguay were reported on 13 March 2020 by the Ministry of Public Health.[107] The early cases were imported from Italy and Spain, with some local transmissions.[108]

The majority of early cases were traced to a wedding with 500 people in attendance in Montevideo, attended by a Uruguayan fashion designer who returned from Spain and later tested positive.[109][110] Various containment measures were introduced in mid-March, and major restrictions on movement followed in late March. Uruguay is one of the few countries in Latin America to have been able to avoid large outbreaks for a considerable amount of time due to their closing of borders with neighboring countries. The country had one of the lowest numbers of active cases per population in South America up until December when the public health authorities announced that large outbreaks had led to community transmission in Montevideo.[111] On January 23, 2021, President Lacalle Pou announced during a press conference that the government purchased doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Sinovac, while negotiating with a third manufacturer.[112]


On 13 March, Vice President Delcy Rodríguez announced the first two confirmed cases in the country.[113]

On 14 March, Communication Minister Jorge Rodríguez informed that eight new cases were detected in the country.[114]

On 26 March, the first death was reported.[115]

Diosdado Cabello, vice-president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and president of the pro-government Constituent National Assembly announced he tested positive for COVID-19 on 9 July.[116]

Tareck El Aissami, the Minister of Petroleum and Omar Prieto, the Governor of Zulia also tested positive on 10 July.[117]

A member of the 2017 National Constituent Assembly and the Governor of the Capital District, Darío Vivas tested positive for COVID-19 on 19 July.[118]

Venezuela Minister of Communication and Information Jorge Rodríguez tested positive for COVID-19 on 13 August.[119] On the same day, Darío Vivas died of COVID-19 at the age of 70.[118]

Venezuela is particularly vulnerable to the wider effects of the pandemic because of its ongoing socioeconomic and political crisis causing massive shortages of food staples and basic necessities, including medical supplies. The mass emigration of Venezuelan doctors has also caused chronic staff shortages in hospitals.[120]

Prevention in other countries and territories[edit]

South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands[edit]

This remote territory is uninhabited, save for small communities of scientists; the territory is also occasionally visited by small groups of tourists.[121] On 17 March tourist facilities in Grytviken were closed as a precaution,[122] with various other measures being implemented to protect workers on the islands.[123] South Georgia is open for visitors with a permit and is still virus free as of 22 April.[124]


  1. ^ Reported recoveries. May not correspond to actual current figures and not all recoveries may be reported. Total recoveries may not necessarily add up due to the frequency of values updating for each location.
  2. ^ As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of those who suffered eye injuries during the 2019–2020 protests have not been able to continue their treatments.[71] In the cases where injured have gone to hospital for treatment and supervision some have had to share rooms with COVID-19 patients.[71]


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