Bolivia facing sustained increase in COVID-19 deaths in August: experts

Almost five months after the first COVID-19 cases was detected in Bolivia, the country is now facing a sustained increase in deaths due to community transmission, with an average of more than 60 deaths per day recorded over the last week, a Bolivian health official said Saturday.

“We have considerable concern about the numbers that are reported every day, in addition to the ‘out-of-hospital’ bodies that are brought in. August will be very difficult because a sustained increase in the deaths from COVID-19 is expected,” Virgilio Prieto, head of the Epidemiology Unit at the Ministry of Health, told Xinhua.

On July 21, the country’s Forensic Investigations Institute said that in the last three months, 3,016 “out-of-hospital” bodies were removed from streets and homes, many of whom were suspected to have died from the virus.

So far, Bolivia has reported 76,789 cases and 2,977 deaths from the disease.

According to Prieto, people were worried about an increased number of protests against the postponement of elections originally scheduled for Sept. 6, but have been postponed to Oct. 18 due to the pandemic.

“We want to tell the people that, if we do not assume personal or social responsibility, unfortunately, in August, we will have to count many more deaths,” he added.

The government announced earlier that the quarantine measures in the country would continue until Aug. 31 due to the increase in community contagion and positive cases of the virus, according to Prieto.

“Given the increase in community infections, the unstoppable rise in positive cases of COVID-19, and the daily increase in deaths in Bolivian territory, it is necessary to continue mitigation, prevention, and containment measures,” said the expert.

Adrian Avila, president of the Bolivian Society of Critical Medicine and Intensive Care, told Xinhua on Saturday that the situation in the country was a calamity due to various factors, including overextended hospitals and a lack of staff.

Avila said Bolivia is now one of the countries that has suffered most from the pandemic.

Rene Sahonero, adviser of the Ministry of Health, said that in recent weeks, Bolivia has entered an “explosive pandemic.”

The country is in the midst of an increasingly complicated situation, as there is an excessive amount of “disobedience,” with citizens participating in hunger strikes and protest marches without following appropriate health measures, he added.