General region overview
Latin America has become a global epicentre for the COVID-19 outbreak. As of early June, two-fifths of new confirmed Covid-19 cases and related deaths occurred in Latin America.
As of 18 August, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has temporarily closed the physical premises of the New Zealand Embassies in Brazil and Colombia (also accredited to Ecuador). The Ministry will be reviewing the temporary closure of these Embassies at regular intervals. The diplomatic staff will continue to perform their roles remotely.
There is a high disparity in testing within Latin American countries. Chile and Peru have the highest rates of infection per capita, although this is partly because of their aggressive testing approach relative to other Latin American countries. The lowest levels of testing are in Brazil and Mexico, the largest and most populated countries. The Governments of Brazil and Mexico have also been relatively slow to acknowledge the gravity of the situation, and their severely stressed healthcare systems are at breaking point.
All countries in Latin America are applying border and travel, quarantine, health and mass gathering controls in an attempt to mitigate effects and control the spread of the virus – although this is happening at differing levels from country to country.
An increasing number of large tradeshows and major public events in Latin America (such as the famous End of Year celebration in Rio de Janeiro and Carnaval celebrations in São Paulo, Brazil) have been cancelled. In light of increased mass gathering controls, NZTE expects the number of cancellations to increase in the short term. This is also flowing to individual companies instigating controls on their staff from travelling (both domestic and international) or attending meetings in person.
Useful links to media coverage: