Parts of Latin America are easing restrictions this week despite rising coronavirus cases. This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that Latin America is now the coronavirus epicenter as it has surpassed Europe and the United States in the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths.

On Tuesday, non-essential businesses will reopen in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. These include churches, car shops, and furniture and decoration stores. People will also be allowed to exercise and swim in the ocean.

The reopening of Rio de Janeiro marks the first of six phases of reopening announced by officials of Brazil. The country will push through with the first phase despite the 54,000 coronavirus cases and 5,462 deaths recorded in Rio de Janeiro. Last week, death toll in the state surpassed the number of deaths recorded in China since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to Rio de Janeiro mayor Marcelo Crivella, everything will “return to normal” in Brazil by early August. “If all parameters are followed, wearing masks and avoiding crowds, we will return to normal life, to the new normal, in August,” he said.

On Monday, Mexico also reopened several sectors of its economy even as coronavirus cases and deaths in the country surged. Mining, construction, and tourist industries are now open in Mexico despite it being the seventh nation to record at least 10,000 deaths due to COVID-19.

Like in Brazil, officials in Mexico are pushing ahead with easing the lockdown to make way for the “new normal.” As of Monday, coronavirus cases in the country were at 93,435. Mexico is also the second country in Latin America with the highest number of COVID-19-related deaths.

On Monday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador toured the state of Quintana Roo to mark the reopening of the country. He also said the reopening of the Mexican economy was “for the good of the people.”

 Meanwhile, the WHO revealed on Monday that both Brazil and Peru are among the “intense zones of transmission” for the coronavirus. “Five of the 10 countries worldwide reporting the highest new number of cases in the past 24 hours are in the Americas: Brazil, USA, Peru, Chile, and Mexico,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program.

COVID-19 Coronavirus is spreading worldwide and countries are doing their best to flatten the curve. Photo by: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay