Severity: Warning Alert

Health: Several South American countries report coronavirus disease cases in select areas since late February. Maintain basic health precautions.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Falkland Islands
  • French Guiana
  • Guyana
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Suriname
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

This alert began 07 Apr 2020 03:45 GMT and is scheduled to expire 06 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Imported cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), local transmission
  • Location(s): South America (map)
  • Period: February-April 2020

Summary
Several South American countries have identified imported cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and some with human-to-human community transmission. As of April 6, confirmed cases were reported in the following countries:

Countries reporting community transmission:

  • Brazil: 11,130 cases; Sao Paulo most affected.

 

  • Chile: 4,471 cases primarily in Metrpolitan.
  • Ecuador: 3,646 cases, primarily in Guayas.
  • Peru: 1,595 cases
  • Argentina: 1,353 cases, primarily in Buenos Aires, others in Chaco, Cordoba, San Luis, and Mendoza
  • Colombia: 1,267 cases in Bogota, Antioquia, and Valle de Cauca
  • Uruguay: 386 cases
  • Bolivia: 183 cases
  • Venezuela: 144 cases
  • Paraguay: 96 cases; some cases in Asuncion
  • French Guiana: 62 cases; some reported in Saint-Lorent-du-Maroni
  • Guyana: 23 cases in Demerara-Mahaica region

 

  • Suriname: 10 cases with one case likely in Paramaribo


Countries where community transmission has not been determined:

  • Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas): 1 case



Background and Analysis
Additional cases and locations may be added to this list at any time as disease surveillance and testing continues.On March 27, the US CDC released an "Alert-Level 3" travel health notice 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."

Coronavirus disease 2019 (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.

Advice
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.

Resources
WHO advice for international travel: www.who.int/news-room/articles-detail/updated-who-recommendations-for-international-traffic-in-relation-to-covid-19-outbreak

WHO coronavirus knowledge base: www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

US CDC Global COVID-19 Travel Health Notice: wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/warning/coronavirus-global

WHO: Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19: www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/getting-workplace-ready-for-covid-19

US CDC: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response

Public Health England: Guidance for Businesses and Employers: www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

Mental Health Considerations during COVID-19 Outbreak: www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations

US CDC: Manage Anxiety and Stress: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety