LatAm Daily Briefing: LATAM Argentina Stops Flying; Chile Tightens Lockdown; Ecuador Extends State of Emergency

17 June: Find out what's been happening in Latin America with our latest news update.

17 June: Find out what's been happening in Latin America with our latest news update.

LATAM Airlines Argentina ceased operations on Wednesday. The Company had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the travel industry. “It is unfortunate but inevitable news. LATAM today must focus on transforming the group to adapt to post-COVID-19 aviation,” Roberto Alvo, CEO of LATAM Airlines Group, was quoted by media as saying. "Argentina has always been a fundamental country and will continue to be. The other subsidiaries of the LATAM group will continue connecting passengers from that country with Latin America and the world," Alvo added. The Argentine subsidiary of the airline will stop flying to and from 12 domestic destinations, while the subsidiary's four international destinations to the US, Brazil, Chile and Peru will continue to be operated.

Brazil continues to report increased numbers of Covid-19 deaths and infections, with another record number of new cases on Tuesday, which increased by 34,918, bringing the number of infections to 923,189. The country also recorded 1,282 deaths in 24 hours, and the country’s death toll now stands at 45,585, second only to that of the US. Despite the continuing spread of the virus, several states and cities have begun to lift quarantine measures, while shopping malls in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro reopened last week. Estimates from PUC University in Rio de Janeiro show cases will likely surpass 1.3 million by late June, with more than 60,000 deaths, according to Bloomberg.

The Chilean government announced a tightening of lockdown measures and “maximum” movement restrictions in its capital Santiago on Wednesday. The country continues to see a rise in Covid-19 cases, which have now surpassed 220,000, while the death toll is currently at 3,615. The Health Ministry said on Tuesday that the number of cases has risen sharply as some 31,000 confirmed cases had not been added to the official figures. The new lockdown measures restrict the residents of Santiago to two outings a week instead of the previous five, in a move to further contain infections. Chile had partially eased lockdown measures in May but a spike in cases led to the measures being reimposed and toughened.

Ecuador has extended its state of emergency until August 13, which will make it one of the country’s in the world with the longest lockdowns in a bid to reduce the number of Covid-19 infections. President Lenin Moreno made the announcement on Monday via Twitter that he had signed a decree to extend the quarantine period. “We cannot lower our guard,” he said. Ecuador has so far recorded 4,007 deaths from the virus, with more than 48,000 confirmed cases, placing it in fourth place in South America in terms of the human impact of the virus, behind Brazil, Chile and Peru, but which has suffered more acutely in relative terms, given the country’s smaller size and population, which numbers around 17.5 million people.

The President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, has tested positive for Covid-19 after starting to suffer symptoms over the weekend, and is the first head of state in Latin America to test positive. The country’s first lady, Ana García de Hernández, has also tested positive, according to media reports. "The President at all times maintained the preventive measures recommended by the health authorities, yet due to the nature of his work it wasn't possible to to stay in total isolation," the government said in a statement Tuesday, and which also called on citizens to continue to observe preventive measures against the virus, which has so far caused 330 deaths in the country, with more than 9,600 confirmed cases.

Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been strongly criticized from within his own party for declaring the Covid-19 pandemic “tamed” and calling on people to resume normal activities. Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, a congressman for López Obradors left-wing Morena party, criticized the President in a series of tweets on Tuesday, describing the president’s call on citizens to return to work “premature,” given that the country is currently at peak contagion, and he called on citizens to stay at home. Mexico began a partial reopening of the economy on June 1st, with essential industries reopening, and which coincided with López Obrador returning to his schedule of touring the country. Mexico’s death toll from Covid-19 is currently 18,310, with more than 155,000 confirmed cases.


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