BOGOTA, Colombia

As parts of the US and Europe moved to gradually ease social distancing measures and open certain economic sectors, Latin America’s largest nation might be emerging as the new hotspot of the coronavirus.

Health officials in Rio de Janeiro and other cities in Brazil warned of overwhelmed hospitals, morgues and cemeteries, while they started collecting bodies of victims who have died at home.

Brazil reported 4,674 deaths and 68,188 infections Tuesday. But the true figures are believed to be higher given the lack of testing and patients who have not been to a hospital.

The survival of indigenous communities in the Brazilian, Colombian and Peruvian Amazon are at stake.

Leticia, the capital of the Colombian Amazon, has 40 reported cases and two fatalities from the virus.

Governor of Amazonas Jesus Galdino Cedeno, said the announced government aid has not yet reached the territory and expressed concern about confirmed cases in nearby Brazilian and Peruvian cities, which further increase the risk faced by the mostly indigenous population. Medical care is provided by only two hospitals, which have a combined 111 beds for intensive care.

Manaus, a Brazilian Amazon city of 1.8 million, recorded 3,833 cases and 304 deaths, including 41 who died at home.

In the main cemetery, workers have been digging mass graves and the funeral industry warned last week that the city was running out of coffins.

Peru

President Martin Vizcarra earlier this week extended a national quarantine until May 10 following a surge in COVID-19 cases. The death toll stands at 782 with 28,699 cases.

Human rights groups are calling on the government to allow house arrest during the pandemic after the National Penitentiary Institute confirmed Tuesday the death of nine inmates during a prison riot that centered on demands for better sanitary measures and medical care.

Argentina confirmed 4,003 cases of the virus with 197 deaths.

Ecuador reported Tuesday 24,258 positive cases and 871 fatalities.

Central America

After attending a music festival in Panama, dozens of concert-goers have been stranded on an island since late February following the coronavirus outbreak that has left 6,021 cases and 167 deaths in the country. Many attendees have not been able to return home because of insufficient repatriation flights.

After more than 50 people were killed last weekend in an unprecedented wave of violence in El Salvador, prison authorities have tightened measures on detained gang members who apparently are ordering the murders of prison staff and their family members.

The doors to inmates’ cells are being barricaded with plywood and sheets of metal after Security Minister Osiris Luna said “no ray of sunlight” would enter cells holding jailed gang members.

Images published by various media outlets showed large groups of inmates gathered during cell inspection, despite social distancing recommendations in place to avoid contracting the virus.

El Salvador has 345 cases and eight deaths.

Mexico

Mexico reported 15,529 known cases and 1,434 deaths Tuesday.

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