Healthcare systems across Latin America risk being overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO has said, as the death toll from the disease in hard-hit Brazil passed 30,000.
The march of the illness across the Americas comes as other parts of the world return to relative normality after weeks of restrictions on daily life that have wrecked economies and left millions jobless.
The pandemic has now killed more than 377,000 people worldwide and infected more than 6.3 million.
Four of the 10 countries across the globe with the greatest number of new COVID-19 cases on Monday were in Latin America, WHO Health Emergencies Program executive director Michael Ryan said.
Brazil, Peru, Chile and Mexico are suffering the highest daily increases, but numbers are also on the rise in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia and Haiti.
“Countries are having to work very, very hard to both understand the scale of infection, but also health systems are beginning to come under pressure,” Ryan said.
The region has logged 1 million cases and recorded more than 50,000 deaths, with Brazil accounting for more than half of those cases and close to 60 percent of the fatalities.
However, he mayor of Rio de Janeiro on Monday said that the popular tourist city would start gradually easing lockdown measures from yesterday, beginning with the reopening of places of worship and water sports.
Mexico also began reopening on Monday, reactivating the automotive industry, mining and construction even as the country recorded more than virus 10,000 deaths.
Ryan said that the region faces a tough battle in the weeks ahead.
“I don’t believe we have reached the peak in that transmission and, at this point, I cannot predict when we will,” he said.
Meanwhile in Europe, from Russia and France to Italy and Britain, countries have started to emerge from lockdowns, cautiously adopting a post-pandemic version of normal.
Bars began to serve again in Finland and Norway — with social distancing restrictions or shortened hours in place — while some schools in Britain and Greece opened their doors.
London’s Camden Market cautiously opened for the first time in 10 weeks, with stallholders excited to welcome customers.
“We are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Mario Warner, owner of a nearby clothing store that has been given the green light to open in two weeks.
Greece opened some hotels, schools, pools and tattoo parlors, while Italy reopened the Colosseum, although only to Italians.
There was also good news from Spain, which on Monday recorded its first 24-hour period without a COVID-19 death since March 3.
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