BUENOS AIRES — For most of the previous 12 months, Uruguay was held up as an instance for holding the coronavirus from spreading extensively as neighboring international locations grappled with hovering death tolls.
Uruguay’s success has run out. In the final week, the small South American nation’s Covid-19 death fee per capita was the highest in the world, according to data compiled by The New York Times.
As of Wednesday, at the least 3,252 individuals had died from Covid-19, in response to the Uruguayan Health Ministry, and the each day death toll has been about 50 throughout the previous week.
Six out of the 11 international locations with the highest death charges per capita are in South America, a area the place the pandemic is leaving a brutal toll of rising joblessness, poverty and starvation. For the most half, international locations in the area have failed to amass adequate vaccines to inoculate their populations shortly.
Contagion charges in Uruguay started inching up in November and soared in current months, apparently fueled by a highly contagious variant first identified in Brazil final 12 months.
“In Uruguay, it’s as if we had two pandemics, one until November 2020, when things were largely under control, and the other starting in November, with the arrival of the first wave to the country,” mentioned José Luis Satdjian, the deputy secretary of the Health Ministry.
The nation with the second-highest death fee per capita is close by Paraguay, which additionally had relative success in containing the virus for a lot of final 12 months however now finds itself in a worsening crisis.
Experts hyperlink the sharp rise in instances in Uruguay to the P.1 virus variant from Brazil.
“We have a new player in the system and it’s the Brazilian variant, which has penetrated our country so aggressively,” Mr. Satdjian mentioned.
Uruguay closed its borders tightly at the starting of the pandemic, however cities alongside the border with Brazil are successfully binational and have remained porous.
The outbreak has strained hospitals in Uruguay, which has a inhabitants of three.5 million.
On March 1, Uruguay had 76 Covid-19 sufferers in intensive care items. This week, medical professionals had been caring for greater than 530, in response to Dr. Julio Pontet, president of the Uruguayan Society of Intensive Care Medicine who heads the intensive care division at the Pasteur Hospital in Montevideo, the capital.
That quantity is barely decrease than the peak in early May, however consultants have but to see a gentle decline that might point out a pattern.
“It is still too early to reach the conclusion that we’ve already started to improve, we’re in a high plateau of cases,” Dr. Pontet mentioned.
Despite the persevering with excessive variety of instances, there’s optimism that the nation will be capable of get the state of affairs below management quickly as a result of it’s certainly one of the few in the area that has been in a position to make fast progress on its vaccination marketing campaign. About 1 / 4 of the inhabitants has been totally immunized.
“We expect the number of serious cases to begin decreasing at the end of May,” Dr. Pontet mentioned.