By 31 August, the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region, the COVID-19 global epicentre, surpassed seven million COVID-19 confirmed cases and over 276,000 deaths. Brazil had more than half of these cases (3.9 million) while Peru, Mexico and Colombia each exceeded 600,000 confirmed cases. By 31 August, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Mexico and Argentina were among the ten countries with the highest numbers of confirmed cases globally.a The pandemic is still growing fast in parts of the region. The number of cases doubled from three million to six million in just over a month. Four countries in South America and two in Central America had some of the highest three-day rolling average of new cases per million in the world (in the same category as the United States and Spain).
Despite prevention and containment measures that most countries implemented in the first months of the outbreak, many countries are facing severe challenges trying to gradually reopen their economies to mitigate further socioeconomic impacts, while the virus continues to spread. The risk of political instability and civil unrest has increased due to the prolonged period of strict prevention measures and loss of livelihoods. With the region’s GDP expected to contract 5.3 per cent in 2020 and unemployment on the rise, children are among the most affected by the socioeconomic effects of COVID-19.
Schools remain closed in most countries of the region, impacting an estimated 138 million children and adolescents. Nicaragua and Uruguay have their schools open, while in Anguilla, Brazil, Chile and Haiti, schools are partially open. Where schools are still closed, authorities are preparing for the safe reopening. At regional and country level, UNICEF is supporting governments and partners on this endeavour.
Across the region, 24 UNICEF Country Offices continue delivering multi-sectoral response to the needs created by the pandemic. Over 314 million people have been reached with information on prevention and access to services, particularly critical as containment measures start to soften. More than 267,000 health workers have received protective equipment and 4.7 million people have received WASH supplies and services. Psychosocial support services, provided not only face-to-face but also through remote channels, have benefited over 3.1 million children and caregivers.