Severity: Warning Alert

Health: Several South American countries report COVID-19 cases since late February 2020. Maintain basic health precautions.

  • Alert Begins: 24 Jul 2020 02:52 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 24 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: Imported cases of COVID-19, local transmission
  • Location(s): South America (map)
  • Period: February-July 2020

Several South American countries continue to confirm additional cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). As of July 24, confirmed cases were reported in the following countries:

Countries reporting community transmission:


  • Brazil: 2,287,475 cases


  • Peru: 362,087 cases


  • Chile: 338,759 cases


  • Colombia: 211,038 cases


  • Argentina: 136,118 cases


  • Ecuador: 78,148 cases


  • Bolivia: 62,357 cases


  • Venezuela: 12,975 cases


  • French Guiana: 6,883 cases


  • Paraguay: 3,817 cases


  • Suriname: 1,131 cases


  • Uruguay: 1,096 cases


  • Guyana: 339 cases


Territories where community transmission has not been determined:


  • Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas): 13 cases



Background and Analysis
Authorities may add additional cases and locations to this list as disease surveillance and testing continues. The US CDC released an "Alert-Level 3" travel health notice March 27, due to global COVID-19 transmission. This is the highest warning level and indicates authorities recommend avoiding non-essential travel. It is recommended that travelers avoid any contact with ill individuals and frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, alcohol-based hand sanitizer (minimum 60 percent alcohol) should be used. Older individuals, infants, and those with chronic illness are more susceptible to infection and are at increased risk for severe complications. Following international travel, all travelers should stay home for 14 days after returning home, monitor their health, practice social distancing, and avoid interaction with ill individuals. Human-to-human transmission is occurring, though it remains unclear how easily the virus spreads between people.

On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. This shift in posture from an earlier briefing indicating the WHO would no longer use the term "pandemic" to describe disease transmission is reflective of the current COVID-19 global impact. Per the March 11 statement, "Describing the situation as pandemic does not change WHO's assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn't change what WHO is doing, and it doesn't change what countries should do."

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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