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.


"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."

This is far from CLEAR. This is what the government has told us. There is very limited testing. Bukele has been widely criticized for violating freedom of the press and the right to information. The numbers are probably much higher than reported. Furthermore, there have been documented cases where these strict measures have lead to uninfected people becoming infected after they were put into dangerous quarantine situations. The "strict measures" are also going to lead to an explosion of COVID in the prison system.
Don said…
People only focus on the parts of Bukele's response that are negative. They never consider the fact that he has 80% approval nationwide. Obviously Ladutke's mind has been made up for a long time.

Personall, I know that Ladutke's comments on Bukele make me question the legitimacy of Amnesty International reports world wide. I know that I'm not alone on that either.

Honduras is straight up running a narco state. But the U.S. congress is focused on Bukele because it's an easy thing to do. There aren't any U.S. military bases in El Salvador. People like Ladutke go around whispering in the ear of politicians in DC about people like Bukele??? WTF??? 80% approval among Salvadorans.