Central America experienced an explosion of cases and deaths from COVID-19 this week, with record daily figures in almost all the countries of the region, which has accumulated at least 45,478 infections and 1,255 deaths from the disease and is trying to gradually reopen its battered economy.
At least 9,838 new cases and 215 deaths from the disease caused by the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus were recorded in the past week in five Central American countries, according to daily official data, with the most notable increases occurring in Panama, Guatemala and Honduras.
In Nicaragua, a country immersed in a prolonged political crisis and whose approach to the pandemic has drawn international and local criticism, the government reported last Tuesday an accumulated 1,464 cases of COVID-19 and 55 deaths, while an independent observatory put the number of deaths at 1,289 and the number of infections at 4,971.
Panama, which has 20,686 confirmed infections and 437 deaths from COVID-19, added 4,261 new cases between Monday and Sunday, the most notable increase in the region, and 44 deaths, in what has been its worst week so far in 98 days of the pandemic.
Between Monday and Saturday, Guatemala had 2,436 cases and 115 deaths, the highest number of deaths in the region, which brought the total to 9,491 confirmed infections and 367 deaths.
With a record 27 deaths on Wednesday and 509 new cases on Saturday, it has been a tough week for Guatemala, where a nighttime curfew has been in effect since mid-March and only tourism, education, entertainment and real estate are closed.
Honduras had 2,128 new infections and 52 deaths between Monday and Saturday, bringing the total to 8,455 and 310, respectively.
On Wednesday, a record 19 deaths were recorded by COVID-19 in 24 hours, while on Tuesday, 485 cases were reported, the highest number so far during the pandemic in Honduras, a country that is reaching the stage where hospitals are collapsing, said the president of the Association of Social Security Doctors in San Pedro Sula, Carlos Umaña.
El Salvador added 616 cases and at least two deaths between Monday and Saturday to reach a cumulative total of 3,720 infections and 74 deaths, amid a controversy that ended at midnight Saturday after the Supreme Court declared it illegal.
Costa Rica, praised internationally for its response to the pandemic and which has accumulated 1,662 infections and 12 deaths, did not escape the records this week when it reported 86 new infections on Wednesday, and another two days more than 70.
Costa Rica began its economic reopening weeks ago with the operation of museums, cafeterias, gyms, hotels and national parks at 50% capacity.