Brazil Covid-19 variant spreading across South America – massive surge in cases!
Health authorities across South America released Covid-19 figures showing a number of countries dealing with a spike in infections and deaths.
Uruguay and Paraguay registered record numbers of daily deaths, while the total number of Covid cases surpassed the 13-million mark in Brazil.
The massive rise has been attributed to the spread of the Brazil variant.
The variant is thought to be more than twice as transmissible as the original.
The Brazil variant
Experts say Brazil has detected 92 variants of Covid-19 in the country. They say that the development is not surprising – all viruses mutate as they make copies of themselves to spread.
The Brazil variant (P.1) is a cause for concern because it’s believed to be more contagious than the original strain.
The variant was first detected in travellers to Japan from the city of Manaus, in the Brazilian Amazon.
It is believed that the variant emerged in Amazonas state in November 2020, spreading quickly in the state capital Manaus, where it accounted for 73% of cases by January 2021, according to researchers.
How widespread is it?
It’s hard to determine how widespread the variant is. However, the risk has always been deemed high as Brazil shares borders with 10 countries.
Peru’s health minister, on March 2, said 40% of all cases in Lima were caused by the Brazil variant. On Monday, he said that cases had been detected “almost everywhere in Peru.”
Variant cases have also been confirmed in Uruguay and Paraguay, both of which registered record numbers of daily deaths on Tuesday.
Half the cases on the Paraguay border with Brazil are caused by the variant according to health officials.
A growing rise in cases of the variant in Bolivia led to the country ordering the closure of its border with Brazil for at least a week. Lockdowns are ordered for the border regions where cases occurred.
Venezuela’s President has also blamed a recent spike in cases and deaths on the spread of the Brazil variant.
In Argentina, health officials have also confirmed the presence of the variant.
And while vaccination is going ahead speedily in Chile and Uruguay, it has been slow in many other countries of the region.
The director of the Pan-American Health Organization, Carissa Etienne, has warned that the situation constitutes “an active public health emergency”.
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