Is It Safe to Travel to Latin America?

Southern Explorations has been getting a lot of questions about whether it’s safe to travel to Latin America during the coronavirus epidemic. The region has so far seen only one confirmed case of Coronavirus, in Brazil, nearly two and a half months after the first reported case in China. 
As a preventative measure, Latin American countries are already making preparations to prevent an outbreak in the region. Countries are tightening their health and safety controls.
Dr. Marcos Espinal, Director of Communicable Diseases for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), points out that all the countries of the region have improved their detection and prevention infrastructure since the global SARS epidemic in the early 2000’s. Latin America now has more labs available, in addition to resources to detect cases at points of entry; to diagnose cases as they arise; and to quarantine confirmed cases when necessary.
Espinal has also pointed out that coronavirus is not as dangerous as SARs or MERS. Coronavirus’ mortality rate is 2-4%, compared to SARS’ mortality rate of 15-20% and MERS’ 65% mortality rate. The common flu has a mortality rate of under 1%, killing about 400,000 per year. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 80,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported, with about 2600 deaths worldwide.
It is possible that additional cases will appear in Latin America in the future. Health officials encourage travelers to keep up to date on the number of cases in the area where they’re traveling, and also to make sure to practice healthy hygiene, including washing their hands frequently. All that being said, the risk of exposure is low if you’re traveling to an area with few confirmed cases. Many travelers who canceled their trips to Asia have been rebooking trips to South America for this reason.
“…If you’re looking at a place where there are no cases, there’s no question you should continue on your trip,” Bernard Camins, Medical Director for Infection Prevention at the Mount Sinai Health System, told the New York Times.

Southern Explorations is closely monitoring the situation and will deliver additional information to upcoming travelers as needed.