MEXICO CITY (AP) – Latin America, with more than 50,000 people infected by COVID-19 and more than 2,000 deaths, is gradually approaching the peak of the epidemic in the region with hard expectations ahead both in health and in the economic. And with her prayers placed on the Virgin of Guadalupe, patron saint of the Americas.
That is why on Sunday, the close of Holy Week, Pope Francis asked for unity to face these difficult moments in a message read during a ceremony in the Basilica of Guadalupe, in Mexico City, which was broadcast on the Internet so that all Catholics in The region will pray together for the health of the world and the end of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, governments continued to take peremptory measures to deal with the coronavirus hit: Peru will take the hands of foreign doctors and Chile will inject credits into micro and small companies stunned by the crisis.
But the World Bank, in a report published on Sunday, predicted the worst by predicting that the economies of Latin America and the Caribbean could fall 4.6% this year due to the coronavirus, which would force their governments to take shares in the main companies in difficulties.
The most religious ones chose to pray this Easter Sunday and virtually witness an act of Consecration to the Virgin Guadalupe that took place at noon in their basilica in Mexico City, which was accompanied by the sound of the 12 chimes in different cathedrals on the continent and the emptiness of the churches, many closed to the faithful by the isolation orders that prevail in the vast majority of countries.
Franco Coppola, apostolic nuncio to Mexico, was commissioned to read a message from the pope in which Francis blessed all Latin Americans in these “moments of darkness” and who called to be together in the fight against the pandemic.
“We cannot save each of us on our own but only united,” Coppola said before an empty temple where only the priests who officiated the ceremony broadcast on the Internet were, the place where all the events of this Holy Week have come together. peculiar due to the enclosure required by the authorities to try to contain the expansion of the coronavirus.
For his part, the president of the Latin American Episcopal Council, the Peruvian Miguel Cabrejos, in a recorded message, recalled that “in plagues and wars” Latin Americans have begged the virgin as they do now with the pandemic, and asked to pray above all for the most vulnerable, “the elderly, children, the sick, indigenous people and migrants”.
In many places in the region, masses and processions were suppressed due to quarantines, which in several countries have just been extended or the authorities plan to do so soon.
In Mexico, with more than 4,200 infections and at least 273 deaths from the disease, the death of Jaime Ruiz Sacristán, the president of the board of directors of the Mexican Stock Exchange and who was one of the first confirmed public figures, was announced on Sunday. with COVID-19 in mid-March and whose death is made public.
According to local press, Ruiz Sacristán, 70, was infected in Vail, Colorado, the destination of at least 400 Mexicans from the country’s wealthiest elite whom authorities tracked down because they feared they might be a major focus of the disease. At least 17 tested positive for COVID-19.
Brazil, considered the country with the most Catholics in the world, celebrated the end of an atypical Easter. For the first time in history, the Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida, patron saint of Brazilians, wore without faithful at Easter Sunday mass.
The archbishop of Aparecida, Orlando Brandes, asked believers to remain at home following medical recommendations to deal with the new coronavirus.
President Jair Bolsonaro, close to the evangelical churches, would participate in a video conference with pastors that will be broadcast on social networks, the Brazilian press reported.
Peru, meanwhile, momentarily became the second most infected country in Latin America after Brazil. According to official figures released on Sunday, there are 7,519 infected and 193 dead, while Ecuador added 7,466 infected, although more dead than Peru, and Chile 7,213 infected with 80 deaths.
The Peruvian government authorized the hiring of foreign doctors and nurses to combat the pandemic that has infected nearly 200 local doctors and has already killed one, which could open the doors to Venezuelan professionals in the field based in the country.
In Chile, the government announced that it will provide loans to micro, medium and small companies based on sales, which will have a six-month grace period and preferential rates.
“We are also fully aware of the pain, anguish, and fear that affect the vast majority of Chilean families who have seen their lives altered as a result of this pandemic,” said President Sebastián Piñera.
In Guatemala, meanwhile, the number of deaths from coronavirus rose to five and to 152 the number of infected. A positive woman gave birth to a pair of twins, who would be free of the virus, according to authorities in the Central American country.
In Ecuador, the number of infected people reported until Sunday was 7,466 and 333 died from COVID-19, although authorities suspect that 384 others, who were not tested, probably died of the same cause. The province of Guayas, whose capital is Guayaquil, remains the epicenter of the pandemic in the Andean country with 5,381 cases.
Ecuador is the country most hit by the pandemic at the moment, after Brazil.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, more than 56,700 infected and more than 2,300 deaths from the coronavirus were reported.
The pandemic has infected more than 1.7 million people and killed more than 103,870 worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, which bases its data on reports from the governments and the health authorities of each country.
In most people this virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that disappear in two to three weeks. But in some people, especially older adults and those with underlying health conditions, it can cause more serious illness and even death.
With contributions from journalists from The Associated Press in Latin America.