El Salvador COVID-19 update
An overview of COVID-19 developments in El Salvador through the end of April.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 on El Salvador have been increasing at a steady rate. For the past week, the country has been reporting an average of 21 new confirmed cases per day and reporting that it is testing an average of 1239 persons per day. There have been 9 deaths officially linked to the virus.
It is clear that the strict measures imposed by the Bukele government have had the effect of delaying for a month or more growth in community transmission in the disease. So far this has achieved the primary goal of such a lock-down -- the healthcare system has had time to prepare and develop capabilities to respond to an eventual wave of COVID-19 cases.
Now at the end of April there have been local cases confirmed in every department of the country. Not surprisingly, the capital city of San Salvador has the most cases (44). Increasing cases in the coming days and weeks will determine if the country did enough to "flatten the curve" and whether the preparations of the healthcare system are adequate. Today the Legislative Assembly voted to extend the current national emergency through May 16.
El Salvador is faring well in comparison to other Central American countries:
(The statistics for Nicaragua and Belize are not credible according to most experts)
On April 23, El Faro reported that 1500 migrants had been deported to El Salvador from Mexico and the US between March 16 and April 17. The Salvadoran government asserts that none of those persons returned were infected with the coronavirus. In contrast, there are reports that a significant percentage of persons deported from the US to Guatemala had the disease. US president Donald Trump announced that he is sending ventilators to El Salvador noting that El Salvador had been cooperating with the US on controlling immigration.
Nayib Bukele has vetoed several measures passed by the Legislative Assembly related to the pandemic. One measure would have provided private health insurance for front line workers in the medical field, and the other would have permitted Salvadorans stranded in the exterior to return to El Salvador. While the Assembly was in session to vote on overriding the vetos, Bukele suddenly tweeted that there was evidence that the Assembly had virus contamination, leading to the break-up of that session of the Assembly.
Today, however, the Legislative Assembly overrode Bukele's vetoes of laws requiring security forces to follow the prior ruling of the Constitutional Chamber and to not arbitrarily detain persons for violation of quarantine. The Legislative Assembly also overrode Bukele's veto of a law which required a faster return of Salvadorans abroad. We will see whether these veto overrides actually change the actions of Bukele and his subordinates.
The government had earlier announced that it had its own plan for gradually returning Salvadorans from abroad which would commence May 1. Anyone returning will still be required to enter quarantine for a period of time. How many people will be able to return and how quickly is still unknown.
The Bukele government has put together an economic relief plan for the coming months, but the Legislative Assembly voted not to take it up, preferring to develop its own plan. The original $300 subsidy to poor families in the informal sector of the economy will apparently not be repeated although this cash did not stretch far for households with many mouths to feed and no income. Efforts are turning to delivery of food baskets to affected families.
|Charting of local cases of COVID-19 taken from El Salvador government
data at covid19.gob.sv. Excludes cases the government identifies as originating
with someone who had traveled internationally and acquired the virus abroad.