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Coronavirus digest: Latin America passes 1 million deaths

May 22, 2021

The region, which includes hard-hit Brazil, has recorded almost 30% of all global fatalities. Meanwhile, US states are lifting lockdown restrictions as the rate of vaccination increases. Follow DW for the latest.

People visit a cemetery in Brazil
Latin America has only immunized 3% of its populationImage: Michael Dantas/AFP/Getty Images

Latin America and the Caribbean passed 1 million coronavirus deaths on Friday. Since the virus was first detected in Sao Paulo in late February 2020, the region has recorded over 1,001,400 fatalities, or almost 30% of the global total, and more than 31.5 million cases.

Nearly 90% of those deaths have been recorded in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and Peru.

Latin America suffers from a lack of access to vaccines and necessary medical supplies, and has only finished immunizing 3% of its population, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Brazil's fight against COVID

Brazil is the second-worst affected country in the world by virus deaths after the United States and has the highest overall death rate in Latin America.

Daily fatalities have dropped by a third since passing 3,000 in the first half of April, however. Mexico, the second-worst affected country in the region, has seen daily deaths fall even more dramatically, from 1,300 at the end of January to just 170.


Germany reported 7,072 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 3,642,244 since the start of the pandemic, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll also rose by 170, bringing the total to 87,298. The new figures come as several German regions announce an easing of coronavirus-related restrictions and lockdown measures.

How Germany lost control of its coronavirus response

Starting Sunday, travelers arriving in Germany from Britain will have to quarantine for two weeks. Germany has classified the UK a risk area amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus variant first found in India. 

Only German citizens and residents of Germany will be allowed to enter from Britain, with air, rail and bus companies banned from transporting all other passengers from the country.

With 17,410 new cases reported between May 16 and May 22, Britain has reported an increase in coronavirus infection rates by 10.5% compared to the week before.

According to the UK government data, a total of 37.73 million people had received a first dose of a vaccine against coronavirus by May 21 and 22.07 million people had received a second dose.

UK fights spread of COVID variant


India reported 257,299 new infections and 4,194 deaths over the past 24 hours. The total number of infections in the country stood at 26.3 million while the total death toll stood at 295,525, according to health ministry data. The new figures come just three days after India set a global record for daily coronavirus deaths, reporting 4,529 new fatalities.

India has called on social media giants to remove hundreds of thousands of posts referencing the "Indian variant" of the coronavirus.

In a letter seen by news agencies AFP and Reuters, India's Information and Technology ministry told social media companies that the WHO classification does not refer to an "Indian variant," but rather by its scientific name, B.1.617 — which is a practice the WHO has followed for other known variants as well.

'Black fungus' infections rise in India

Thailand has detected the first local cases of the coronavirus variant first discovered in South Africa, according to a group of scientists cited by Reuters news agency. 

"The variant may impact human immunity response from the virus and reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine," Reuters quoted a report by the Thai COVID-19 Network Investigations Alliance. 

Several studies have found the variant, known as B.1.351, to carry mutations that threaten the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines.

At least 100 climbers and support staff have been infected in a coronavirus outbreak on Mount Everest, according to an expert climbing guide cited by the Associated Press news agency. 

Lukas Furtenbach told AP that it was obvious there were many cases at the Everest base camp because he could visibly see people were sick, and could hear people coughing in their tents.

Nepalese authorities have been tight-lipped over reports of evacuations of coronavirus-infected climbers from base camps, where negative tests are required, as the nation fights an infection surge, its second since last year.

Sri Lanka stopped all passenger trains and buses for four days as authorities imposed a new travel ban to curb the spread of the virus. The ban is effective from Friday night until Tuesday morning.

The ban was implemented as the island nation's medical associations called for a government-imposed lockdown of the country for two weeks. The associations say that the actual number of infections is more than three times the reported number of 154,786.

The country of more than 22 million people has reported a total of 1,089 fatalities since the start of the pandemic.


The US state of Alabama's port city, Mobile, threw a Mardi Gras-style parade on Friday night, marking its first since Carnival celebrations were canceled earlier this year due to the pandemic.

The parade brought in thousands of revelers, many who celebrated in the streets without masks and lined up shoulder-to-shoulder to compete for plastic beads and trinkets tossed from floats. Despite the cheer, however, the United States still remains hard-hit by the pandemic, reporting around 30,000 new cases per day this week.

Vaccine fears in the US

Meanwhile, California will no longer require social distancing and allow full capacity for businesses when the state reopens on June 15.

"We're at a place with this pandemic where those requirements of the past are no longer needed for the foreseeable future,'' Secretary of California Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly said.

Ghaly said that dramatically lower virus cases and increasing vaccinations mean it's safe for California to remove nearly all restrictions next month. The state of nearly 40 million people has administered nearly 35.5 million vaccine doses, he said, and more than three-quarters of residents over 65 have received at least one dose.

Mexico will receive around 4 million AstraZeneca shots by the end of the week, a senior official said. An air cargo for around 1.3 million doses that arrived from the United States on Thursday night was the first part of the shipments of the Argentine-made active ingredient for the vaccine, they added.

The Mexican government previously said Thursday's shipment contained about 1.2 million doses. Under the deal with AstraZeneca, Argentina makes the active ingredient that is then bottled in Mexico and sent across Latin America. On Wednesday, Mexico injected a record 727,638 doses, health ministry data showed.

Mexico developing its own vaccine

Argentina has entered a 9-day lockdown as the government hopes to halt skyrocketing coronavirus infection rates. Argentinians will be allowed out only from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time, and they will have to stay close to their homes. Schools and non-essential businesses will be closed. Social, religious and sporting events will be banned.

After this set of restrictions, scheduled until May 31, there will be another total lockdown on the weekend of June 5 and 6.


fb, lc/aw (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)