Hospitals in Latin America are starting to collapse due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As coronavirus infection rates decline in parts of Asia and Europe, rates continue to rise in Latin America, where some of the hardest-hit nations such as Brazil and Peru are located.

According to experts, health systems in Brazil are already buckling as the country has now surpassed the U.K. as the third-worst affected country in the world. On Tuesday night, Brazil recorded 1,179 new deaths, bringing up its national death toll to 17,971. Before Tuesday, the highest daily death toll of 888 was recorded on May 12. Infections in the country are now at 271,885, making it the most infected in the whole of Latin America.

In Peru, Pilar Mazzetti, the head of the country’s COVID-19 taskforce also admitted on Tuesday that the country was already in bad shape. The country has recorded more than 100,000 infections and 3,024 deaths, placing it next to Brazil as the second most affected Latin American country.

Last week, Peru President Martin Vizcarra said the exponential increase in the number of coronavirus cases in Peru was a result of the massive testing being done in the country. The country has conducted at least 600,000 coronavirus tests. Despite that, Mazzetti said, “We’re in a bad shape. This is war.” Hospitals in Lima are now operating at 80% capacity.

Worse than Peru is Chile, where intensive care beds are now operating at 90% capacity. The rising number of deaths in the country has already prompted officials to dig out 1,000 emergency graves in its capital, Santiago, where future fatalities will immediately be buried. Officials are also planning to move patients from hospitals in Santiago to smaller regional hospitals to ease the strain of the pandemic. However, doing so would mean running the risk of further spreading the virus.

The pandemic has already killed thousands in Latin America but experts fear that it could kill thousands more as the virus spreads in the triple-border region of Brazil, Peru and Colombia. The World Bank also predicts that around 60 million people in the region could fall into extreme poverty in the coming months due to the grave effects of the pandemic on the global economy.

COVID-19 COVID-19 around the world. Photo by Gerd Altmann/Pixabay