Latin America takes steps to bolster economies amid COVID-19 pandemic

Source: Xinhua| 2020-03-17 12:10:33|Editor: huaxia

COLOMBIA-BOGOTA-COVID-19

People wearing masks are about to take the bus at a bus station in Bogota, Colombia, March 16, 2020. In Colombia's capital Bogota, Mayor Claudia Lopez has declared a state of calamity to allocate more city budgets to a possible health emergency in the coming days. Colombia has reported 54 confirmed cases, including 28 in Bogota. The Colombian government has ordered the closure of bars, nightclubs and discos and banned gatherings of more than 50 people. (Photo by Jhon Paz/Xinhua)

MEXICO CITY, March 16 (Xinhua) -- Some countries in Latin America on Monday moved to bolster their economies, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to send shockwaves through local and international markets.

Brazil's National Monetary Council has held an emergency meeting to approve measures to facilitate bank loans and renegotiate debt burdens for both companies and individuals, the Central Bank of Brazil said.

The measures, the bank said, "will help reduce the temporary impact of COVID-19," which has brought some economic sectors to a standstill, as people stay at home to reduce the risk of infection.

Brazilian health authorities have reported a total of 234 confirmed cases, including the first serious case in Rio de Janeiro, a 65-year-old doctor who apparently got infected locally.

Chile's central bank has reduced interest rates and unveiled other measures, saying the economy "has seen a swift and significant deterioration as a result of the global spread of COVID-19."

While economic figures have yet to reflect an economic downturn, the spread of the virus is expected to "impact sales and cash flow ... especially for small and medium-sized companies," the bank said.

Chilean health authorities have confirmed 80 new cases, bringing the total to 155, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera told reporters at a press conference.

"According to the World Health Organization, we have entered stage four of the disease. This is the most complicated stage, with viral circulation and community transmission of the disease," said Pinera.

To minimize infection, Chile will close its borders to foreign tourists from Wednesday, and foreign residents or citizens arriving in the country will have to self-quarantine for two weeks or face fines and even imprisonment, he said.

Paraguay has imposed a nationwide night curfew for 15 days, banning vehicles and pedestrians from passing between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m., with the exception of people on night shifts.

Anyone who violates the curfew will be sentenced to 12 to 18 months in prison and fined between 1,300 U.S. dollars and 6,600 dollars.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday called for a "collective quarantine," asking people to stay at home.

"There is no other choice," said Maduro, adding that "either we quarantine or a pandemic could cause a tragic and merciless blow to our country, as it is happening in Europe today."

Venezuela has confirmed 17 cases of the virus.

In Colombia's capital Bogota, Mayor Claudia Lopez has declared a state of calamity to allocate more city budgets to a possible health emergency in the coming days.

Colombia has reported 54 confirmed cases, including 28 in Bogota.

The Colombian government has ordered the closure of bars, nightclubs and discos and banned gatherings of more than 50 people.

"We are looking to prevent a lot of contact between people," said the country's Health Minister Fernando Ruiz.

In Peru, authorities have reported 15 new cases, bringing the total to 86, while Ecuador has raised its number to 58.

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