People walk on a street amidst the outbreak of the COVID-19 in Peru, May 8, 2020. (Photo: Agencies)
MEXICO CITY - Some Latin American countries on Wednesday moved to reopen their economies despite the rapid spread of the coronavirus in the region.
Brazil reported a total of 13,149 deaths from COVID-19 and 188,974 confirmed cases of infection, after 749 more patients died from the disease and 11,385 infections were detected in the past 24 hours.
The numbers put Brazil's coronavirus mortality rate at 7 percent.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro defended his government's support for the "vertical isolation" strategy, which means only vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and the infirm, must practice social distancing.
Bolsonaro told reporters that he favored restarting the economy, while safeguarding those vulnerable segments.
As of Wednesday, Ecuador reported a total of 2,334 deaths and 30,486 cases of coronavirus infection.
One of Latin America's hardest hit countries, Ecuador declared a state of emergency on March 17 that is in effect until mid-June.
To prepare for the restart of economic activity, the government launched a color-coded monitoring system on May 4 that serves as a kind of traffic light for regions to assess when and how rapidly to lift restrictions.
The entire country began with the light on red, meaning lockdown measures imposed by the government 57 days ago must continue.
In Peru, President Martin Vizcarra said the country has "reached the peak" of the outbreak, after reporting 4,247 more infections, the highest number of new cases registered in a 24-hour period, taking the total caseload to 76,306.
"Peru has reached the ... peak (of infections) and will begin a slow decline, which is what we were expecting," Vizcarra said at a press conference held at the presidential headquarters in Lima.
Chile confirmed 34,381 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and 346 have died from the disease, following a one-day increase of 2,660 new cases and 11 more deaths.
Chile also predicted its outbreak would peak in May, leading officials to announce lockdown measures for 32 districts, mainly in the capital Santiago and the metropolitan area, starting Friday for a seven-day period.
Chile has a nationwide nighttime curfew in place and has taken other measures to contain the outbreak, such as closing its borders, suspending classes, and closing non-essential businesses.