Beyond Social Distancing: Need Of The Hour to Drastically Increase COVID-19 Test Coverage

Apr 9, 2020 | Academic resources, All posts, Relevant news and stories

Over 260 researchers and experts in the fields of Demography and Public Health request the governments in LAC (Latin American and Carribran countries), as well as international organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), to urgently increase efforts to test and track cases of COVID-19 in the region.

The petition argues that an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean countries (LAC) depends on a massive increase in test coverage to identify and stop contagion chains. The expansion in test coverage must be more aggressive than in the Global North while taking into account the socioeconomic, demographic and epidemiological characteristics of LAC.

The experts state that social isolation measures will have little effect and will need to be extended if there are no complementary strategies to aggressively detect and track COVID-19 cases.

The experts identify four characteristics of LAC countries that exacerbate their vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic:

          1. High prevalence of chronic conditions that increases the risk of death from COVID-19.

          2. Precarious healthcare infrastructure.

          3. Economic constraints for social distancing and confinement.

          4. Household arrangements can increase the risk of contagion for older people.

Any strategy aimed to contain and mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic in LAC must be accompanied by a huge expansion in testing capabilities to identify infected cases, interrupt contagion chains, and avoid further outbreaks.

Read the petition here.