2020 coronavirus pandemic in Uruguay

The first cases of the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic in Uruguay were reported on 13 March by the Ministry of Public Health.[3] As of March 2020 there is an ongoing outbreak in Uruguay, with the first few cases imported from Italy and Spain and local transmission occurring.[4]

2020 coronavirus pandemic in Uruguay
COVID-19 Outbreak Cases in Uruguay.svg
Departments of Uruguay with confirmed coronavirus cases (as of 3 April)
DiseaseCOVID-19
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
LocationUruguay
Index caseMontevideo
Arrival date13 March 2020
(3 weeks and 3 days)
Confirmed cases406 (as of April 5, 2020)
Active cases296 (as of April 5, 2020)
Suspected cases800 (as of March 31, 2020)
Recovered104 (as of April 5, 2020)
Deaths
6[1][2]
Official website
Sistema Nacional de Emergencias
Suspected cases have not been confirmed as being due to this strain by laboratory tests, although some other strains may have been ruled out.

The majority of early cases were traced to a wedding with 500 people in Montevideo, attended by a Uruguayan returning from Spain who later tested positive.[5] Various containment measures were introduced in mid-March, and major restrictions on movement followed in late March.

EpidemiologyEdit

The first four cases, all imported, were reported on 13 March. One of them had attended a wedding with 500 people,[6] and two others had taken a six-hour bus trip from Montevideo to Salto. Some of the other passengers on this ride were contacted by the authorities and developed symptoms.[7]

On 14 March, it was announced that the two patients who took the bus ride on 8 March generated some 200 contacts, who were categorized as suspected cases with home quarantine recommended.[8][9]

Local transmission was established with two non-imported cases reported on 15 March.[10] The first patients showed mild symptoms of COVID-19.[11] In the preceding days, more than 60 suspected cases had been analyzed and ruled out at air and sea ports in Uruguay. It is believed that the relatively late arrival of COVID-19 cases in Uruguay is related, among other things, to the country's scarce direct air connections with the countries most affected by the virus: China, Germany, northern Italy, Iran, and South Korea.[12]

On 15 March a doctor who works at two medical institutions tested positive. The patients who had visited him and the members of the medical team were contacted.[13][14]

On 16 March, it was announced that one of the infected people was at a wedding in Paraguay and later on Friday, 6 March, went to a Uruguayan First Division football club pre-game meeting, which generated at least 20 suspected contacts.[15][16]

On 17 March it was learned that other wedding attendees, three students at a private university who had attended in-person classes since then, had tested positive for the coronavirus. Their classmates were asked to quarantine.[17]

Of the first 29 confirmed cases, 26 were in the capital of Montevideo, which is home to about a third of the country's population. Two cases were in Salto and one in Maldonado. Nine of the cases were imported and the remaining twenty were transmitted from one of the confirmed cases. Many of these early cases were related to a 7 March wedding in Carrasco with 500 people, attended by a returnee from Spain who later developed symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19.[18][19][20] Of the country's first 55 cases, 44 were traced to the wedding.[21] The passenger returning from Spain later said, "I asked if there were any measures at the airport because I was coming from Europe and they said no."[21]

Uruguayan doctor Martín Stryjewski said that a "cultural change" was necessary. In Uruguay it is common to greet people with a kiss on the cheek; Stryjewski recommended that people instead greet each other without touching. He also recommended that people avoid sharing mate, a Uruguayan beverage that is traditionally drunk communally, sharing a straw. He advised that people use diluted bleach to clean frequently touched surfaces.[22]

ResponseEdit

After the first cases were confirmed, various measures were introduced. Public performances were canceled, and some public places were closed. The Gremial Única del Taxi union asked passengers not to sit in the front of taxis. The Broad Front temporarily suspended political campaigning, and Coalición Multicolor candidate Laura Raffo said she would suspend campaign events in closed spaces. Movie theaters started requiring customers to sit with an empty seat in between them. Catholic bishops made some modifications to ceremonies.[23] Shopping centers were closed 17 March 2020.[24] El País reported on 18 March that Minister Jorge Larrañaga advised residents to stay home as much as possible.[24]

The University of the Republic cancelled classes on 13 March 2020,[25] and later announced plans for distance learning for the remainder of the semester.[26] The government announced a two-week suspension of classes at public and private schools on Saturday, 14 March. Schools were to remain open to provide meals to students, but without classes.[25] The suspension of classes was later extended to 13 April, then extended indefinitely.[27] Students transitioned to online classes using the computers and online tools that had already been set up through the Plan Ceibal. Private schools that don't use Ceibal instead started using tools such as Zoom, Webex, WhatsApp, Google Classroom, and Moodle.[28]

On 16 March, the government issued an order to close all border crossings except Carrasco International Airport.[29] The border with Argentina was closed effective 17 March at midnight.[30] The closure included river and air travel.[30] President Luis Lacalle Pou said that the idea of closing the border with Brazil was "a little more complex", because it is a dry land border, and many people living near the border live a "binational life".[30] Lacalle Pou advised people over 65 to stay at home.[30] Flights from the United States were suspended effective 18 March,[31] and from Europe effective 20 March at midnight (00:00),[32] at which point the airport was to close.[29]

The government recommended working from home and not traveling, and introduced a free service for medical consultation by phone. To free up hospital beds, surgeries were permitted to be rescheduled.[32] The Ministry of the Interior announced that patrol officers would circulate with loudspeakers asking citizens not to meet in large groups.[24] Temperature checks were introduced in prisons and activities for prisoners restricted.[33]

On 17 March, the Ministry of Economy and Finance published a list of prices of products such as alcohol gel, rectified alcohol, and surgical masks, in order to prevent price gouging. The list gave locations where the products could be obtained and their prices at each location.[22][34]

On 18 March, the government said "everything is on the table", including the possibility of a "general quarantine", to address the virus.[18] Amid thousands of unemployment insurance claims, the government announced subsidies and other measures to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.[35]

The Medical Syndicate of Uruguay (Sindicato Médico del Uruguay) called for a general quarantine (shutting down all nonessential businesses and activities). As of 19 March, the possibility was being discussed in the government but had not been implemented due to concerns about its economic effects.[36]

In late March, the government closed Uruguay's borders to foreigners, with the exceptions of Uruguayan residents, transit passengers, and cities on the border with Brazil.[37]

On 30 March, the government announced that from 1 April to 12 April measures would be taken to restrict movement within the country in the lead-up to "Tourism Week" (the Uruguayan term for Holy Week). Residents were advised not to use RVs or to travel with hunting weapons, and campgrounds were closed. The public was advised to stay home and avoid going to public places or campgrounds.[38]

ImpactEdit

Unemployment claims increased dramatically in mid-March 2020, went down somewhat by the end of the month, then increased again in early April. There were 86,000 unemployment claims in the month of March, whereas an average month sees about 11,000. The majority (about 85%) of claims were due to suspension, and only 3% were due to layoffs.[39]

By early April, home internet usage had increased by 32% and mobile usage had increased by 44%, according to the state-owned telecommunications company Antel.[40]

TimelineEdit

COVID-19 cases in Uruguay  ()
     Deaths        Recoveries        Active cases
Date
# of cases
2020-03-13
4
2020-03-14
6(+50%)
2020-03-15
8(+33%)
2020-03-16
29(+262%)
2020-03-17
50(+72%)
2020-03-18
79(+58%)
2020-03-19
94(+18%)
2020-03-20
110(+17%)
2020-03-21
135(+22%)
2020-03-22
158(+17%)
2020-03-23
162(+2%)
2020-03-24
189(+16%)
2020-03-25
217(+16%)
2020-03-26
238(+10%)
2020-03-27
274(+15%)
2020-03-28
304(+11%)
2020-03-29
309(+1%)
2020-03-30
320(+3%)
2020-03-31
338(+5%)
2020-04-01
350(+3%)
2020-04-02
369(+5%)
2020-04-03
386(+4%)
2020-04-04
400(+3%)
2020-04-05
406(+2%)

13 March 2020: The Ministry of Public Health confirmed the first four cases of coronavirus in Uruguay.[41] Three had returned from Milan and one from Barcelona. Two of the four were in the Salto Department.[4] The government declared a Health Crisis.[42][43]

14 March 2020: Two more cases were confirmed. The number of patients rises to 6,[44] while suspected cases increase to 200.[45] By presidential decree, classes were canceled throughout the country for 14 days,[46] as well as the activities of the University of the Republic[47] and public shows. Partial border closure is decreed.[48]

15 March 2020: 2 more cases are confirmed, one of them in the Maldonado Department; the most prominent was former minister and senator Pedro Bordaberry.[49] In Salto there are 80 suspected cases in quarantine.[50] All passengers on flights arriving from risk areas must complete forms for their 14-day mandatory isolation and subsequent control.[51]

16 March 2020: The President of the Republic, Luis Lacalle Pou confirmed 21 new cases in the country. The number of infected people rises to 29.[52] He also announced that the border with Argentina will be closed.[53]

17 March 2020: The Secretary of the Presidency, Álvaro Delgado confirmed twenty-one new cases. The number of infected people rises to 50.[54] Non-food product markets were restricted and the shopping malls were closed.[55][56] The Pasteur Institute of Montevideo initiates support with the University of the Republic, to develop a national diagnostic test for coronavirus.[57]

18 March 2020: 29 new cases are confirmed, as well as the presence of the virus in the Canelones and Colonia Departments.[58] The number of infected people rises to 79, while suspected cases to 392.[59]

19 March 2020: 15 new cases are confirmed, the number of infected people rises to 94. The suspension of classes was extended to 13 April.[60] The government took some economic and social actions in order to help small and medium-sized companies, as well as homeless people.[61] Chinese ambassador Wang Gang met with president Lacalle Pou to convey China's intention to provide supplies to help Uruguay fight the COVID-19 pandemic.[62]

20 March 2020: 16 new cases are confirmed, the number of infected people rises to 110.[63] It is announced that there are four hospitalized patients.[64]

21 March 2020: 25 new cases are confirmed, the number of infected people rises to 135, 2 of them in ICU. Flores is reported to be on the list of infected departments and the Spanish Hospital will be prepared to be the first COVID-19 center in Uruguay. ANTEL declared free roamming service for those Uruguayans that are stranded. Also, a new Whatsapp number 098999999 is available to answer any questions about COVID-19.[65]

22 March 2020: 23 new cases are confirmed, the number of infected people rises to 158, 1 of them in ICU. There were 205 analyses: 182 negative results and 23 positive, 3 of them under 18 years old. 132 citizens returned from Peru, 16 from Buenos Aires and 6 from Bolivia.[66] An ANTEL worker in Montevideo tested positive to COVID-19 analysis and due to this, the whole Telecommunications Tower's 6 floor was closed.[67]

23 March 2020: 4 new cases are confirmed, the number of infected people rises to 162, 1 of them in ICU and 2 in intermediate care. 211 analyses were made on the day.[68]

24 March 2020: 27 new cases are confirmed, the number of infected people rises to 189, 1 of them in ICU and 2 in intermediate care.[69] The first case in Rocha was confirmed.[70] The government decrees the closing of borders to all foreigners [71] and informs that it will subsidize people over 65 who cannot work due to quarantine.[72]

25 March 2020: 28 new cases are confirmed, the number of infected people rises to 217, 4 people in ICU, 2 in intermediate care, and 6 in low care. 320 analyses were made on the day. The first case in Soriano was confirmed.[73]

26 March 2020: 21 new cases are confirmed, the number of infected people rises to 238, 4 people in ICU, 2 in intermediate care, and 6 in low care. 245 analyses were made on the day.[74]

27 March 2020: 36 new cases are confirmed, the number of infected people rises to 274, 4 people in ICU, 4 in intermediate care, and 12 in low care. 451 analyses were made on the day.[75]

28 March 2020: 30 new cases are confirmed, the number of infected people rises to 304, 8 people in ICU, 4 in intermediate care, and 12 in low care. 372 analyses were made on the day.[76] The country's first death from COVID-19 was confirmed, 71-year-old former minister of the Electoral Court Rodolfo González Rissotto.[77]

29 March 2020: 6 new cases are confirmed, the number of infected people rises to 309, 10 people in ICU, 2 in intermediate care, and 12 in low care. 200 analyses were made on the day.[78]

30 March 2020: 10 new cases are confirmed, the number of infected people rises to 320, 11 people in ICU, 1 in intermediate care, and 10 in low care. 298 analyses were made on the day. It was also reported that from the 320 cases, 25 are recoveries.[79]

31 March 2020: 18 new cases are confirmed, the number of infected people rises to 338, 12 people in ICU and 1 in intermediate care. 394 analyses were made on the day. It was also reported that from the 338 cases, 41 are recoveries. The first case in Paysandu was confirmed.[80]

1 April 2020: 12 new cases are confirmed, the number of infected people rises to 350, 15 people are in ICU. 289 analyses were made on the day. From the 350 cases, 62 are recoveries [81]. The country's second death from coronavirus was confirmed, a 61-year-old patient who had other underlying conditions.[82]

2 April 2020: 19 new cases are confirmed, the number of infected people rises to 369, 13 people are in ICU. 356 analyses were made on the day. From the 369 cases, 68 are recoveries. The first case in Lavalleja was confirmed. [83]. Two more deaths from COVID-19 were confirmed, making a total of four deaths: a 65-year-old man and a 66-year-old woman, both had other underlying conditions. The woman had been infected at a religious gathering and the man at the Carrasco wedding.[84][85][86]

3 April 2020: 17 new cases are confirmed, the number of infected people rises to 386, 13 people are in ICU and one in intermediate care. 322 analyses were made on the day. From the 386 cases, 86 are recoveries. The first cases in Rivera and Rio Negro were confirmed. [87].

4 April 2020: 14 new cases are confirmed, the number of infected people rises to 400, 13 people are in ICU. 277 analyses were made on the day. From the 400 cases, 93 are recoveries. The country's fifth death from coronavirus was confirmed, a 53-year-old patient who had other underlying conditions.[88].

5 April 2020: 6 new cases are confirmed, the number of infected people rises to 406, 14 people are in ICU. 145 analyses were made on the day. From the 406 cases, 104 are recoveries. The country's sixth death from coronavirus was confirmed, an 84-year-old patient who had other underlying conditions.[89].

  • Updated as of 3rd April 2020.[90]
Department Confirmed cases Suspected cases Confirmed deaths
  Montevideo 268 +350 6
  Salto 11
  Maldonado 13
  Canelones 64
  Colonia 5
  Flores 1
  Rocha 1
  Soriano 1
  Paysandú 1
  Lavalleja 1
  Río Negro (Uruguay) 1
  Rivera 1
Total: 12 departments 406 confirmed cases +200 suspected cases 6 confirmed deaths

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit