Colombia + 16 more

R4V Flash Update: COVID-19 Update, April - May 2021



  • During April and May, the pandemic took diverging turns across different countries of Latin America and the Caribbean: COVID-19 cases rose sharply in several countries in Central and South America, despite significant progress in vaccination campaigns, leading governments to reinstate or implement new movement restrictions; while case rates fell in some countries in the Caribbean, where movement restrictions were lifted as a result. In this context, R4V Partners worked to ensure access to vaccines for all refugees and migrants, in some cases directly providing access to or information about vaccines, especially to counter misinformation or fears about vaccines among the Venezuelan population.

  • In South America, as of 30 May, Brazil reported over 16.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 461,931 deaths. The ICU bed occupation rate increased to over 90% in eight states, including the Federal District. Chile counted 1,377,507 confirmed cases, a 21% increase in COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks of the month and almost 8,000 new cases per day. The government announced they would implement a "Travel Pass" (Pase de movilidad) to those inoculated against the virus, after vaccinating 51% of the population, with refugees and migrants able to receive the vaccine without restrictions related to their legal status. In April, Ecuador entered its second wave of COVID-19 infections, reaching 100% hospital occupancy, a waiting list to access ICUs, and the funeral home system on the verge of collapse. Guillermo Lasso was inaugurated as Ecuador’s new president on 24 May, and days after announced a new regularization process for Venezuelan refugees and migrants. Meanwhile Argentina’s second wave of COVID-19 showed no sign of slowing, with daily caseloads regularly surpassing 30,000. The country ranked ninth in the world for total confirmed cases. The government announced new movement restrictions for the Buenos Aires metropolitan area (AMBA) - where 15 million of Argentina's 45 million inhabitants live - and closed schools.

  • Uruguay surpassed 4,000 COVID-19 deaths on 26 May, making it the country in the world with the highest number of COVID-19 deaths per capita in May. Although the average mortality rate from COVID-19 (115 per 100,000 habitants) remained below those of Brazil (213) and Argentina (166), fatalities worsened significantly over the last two weeks of May. In Bolivia, the third wave of COVID-19 caused an average of 2,000 to 3,000 daily cases during May, and departments bordering Brazil had an accelerated growth of cases in comparison to the rest of the country. Paraguay ranked first in the world for its death rate due to COVID-19. May was its deadliest month of the pandemic so far, with the highest number of infections and deaths, which exceeded the death toll from all of 2020. In Peru, the government announced a new national vaccination strategy on 4 April, in which foreigners will be able to register for and receive the vaccine using a number of documents, including a birth certificate. By 6 May, the Peruvian Ministry of Health reported that 72 percent of vaccinated foreigners were Venezuelans, including adults over 70 years of age and health professionals working on the frontline against COVID-19.1 On 14 April, the Government of Colombia announced the appointment of Colombian Minister of Health, Fernando Ruiz Gómez, as co-president of the COVAX mechanism, to represent the interests of the 38 middle-income countries from Latin America and the world who are part of the COVAX initiative. Meanwhile, Colombia surpassed 500 deaths per day from COVID-19 on 29 April, the highest number since the pandemic began. On 8 May, the Ministry of Health issued Decree 466, which clarified that the National Vaccination Plan includes “health staff that works in international cooperation agencies, humanitarian international cooperation agencies, humanitarian organizations, and non-governmental governmental organizations.” Meanwhile, only refugees and migrants with a regular migratory status affiliated to the health system were able to access the National Vaccination Plan in Colombia.