#8445062 at 2020-03-17 03:35:58 (UTC+1) Q Research General #10812: All Your Google Are Belong To Us Edition
Military roadblocks, curfews: Latin America tightens coronavirus controls
LIMA/ASUNCION/SAN SALVADOR/BOGOTA (Reuters) - Countries around Latin America tightened restrictions on Monday to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, with Peru deploying military personnel on the streets, Costa Rica and Colombia closing their borders and Paraguay imposing a curfew. While the region has yet to be hit as hard as Asia or Europe, Latin American governments have moved aggressively to contain the virus that has shut down cities and international transport hubs and battered its financial markets.
Nevertheless, not all of them are moving at the same tempo. A diplomatic tiff erupted when El Salvador's president accused Mexico - where the government has received some criticism for the speed of its response - of allowing people with the coronavirus to board a flight due to leave Mexico City for San Salvador. Mexican authorities denied that.
In Colombia, authorities have overcome frosty relations with Venezuela to start sharing information about the coronavirus with their neighbor, but said that did not amount to politically recognizing the government of Nicolas Maduro. Colombian President Ivan Duque also said the country would close all of its maritime, land and river borders starting on Tuesday to prevent the spread of the fatal respiratory disease, with plans to keep them shut until May 30. Duque's move was followed by tougher measures from Maduro, who ordered the widening of a social quarantine across the whole of Venezuela, starting on Tuesday, after the total number of cases in the country doubled to 33. The coronavirus has been slower to reach Latin America than much of the world. Globally, over 174,100 people have been infected and nearly 6,700 have died.
In Peru, President Martin Vizcarra said leaders from Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil spoke via conference call on Monday to analyze the situation and coordinate actions against the pandemic. "We have agreed that together we are going to join forces," he told reporters at the government palace, adding countries would look to coordinate demand for medical supplies and to calculate the economic impact on the region.
In Chile, at least six passengers from a cruise ship named the Silver Explorer were being treated in hospitals in Patagonia after disembarking and being confirmed as having the coronavirus, Health Minister JaimeManalich said. In Lima, masked military personnel blocked major roads, while police restricted the movement of people, as the country rolled out a state of enforced "social isolation". Peru has suspended constitutional rights such as free movement and assembly, although the government has said it will guarantee the operation of supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, basic services and the transportation of merchandise. In nearby Paraguay, which has eight cases of the respiratory disease so far, the government said it would enforce a curfew from 8 p.m. daily to restrict crowds. Certain people, including those doing vital work, delivering food or transportation could continue to move around, Paraguay's interior minister, Euclides Acevedo, told a news conference. Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno said in a televised address on Monday that the Andean country would begin a curfew on Tuesday evening and shut down most normal activities with exceptions for health, safety, banking, and food production and distribution. Panama's government said it had now reported 69 cases of the coronavirus infection, up from 55 on Sunday.