Standing apart – How Uruguay has coped with covid-19 | The Americas

Standing apart – How Uruguay has coped with covid-19 | The Americas

Jun 18th 2020BUENOS AIRESBETWEEN TAKING calls on his radio show, Horacio Abadie explains to a journalist Uruguay’s success in curbing the spread of

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BETWEEN TAKING calls on his radio show, Horacio Abadie explains to a journalist Uruguay’s success in curbing the spread of covid-19. Rather than locking people down, the government trusted them, he says. And people behaved responsibly. “Mutual trust has us controlling the virus.”

By June 18th Uruguay had reported 849 confirmed cases and 24 deaths from covid-19, the lowest number as a share of population of any country in South America. Uruguay has administered 55,215 tests, a regional record.

Luis Lacalle Pou, the centre-right president, was swift but not strict. On March 13th he declared an emergency and shut the borders. Like the populist leaders of Brazil and Mexico, he is at pains to shield the economy. Unlike them, he does not make light of the disease. “It was such a surprise to see a president listen to a doctor, or a mathematician, digest the advice, then communicate a message to the public free of any politics,” says Eduardo Savio, an epidemiologist who advised the government.

The government calls its policy libertad responsable (responsible liberty). It shut down schools, cinemas and shopping malls. It urged people to work from home, wear face masks and keep their distance from each other, but did not confine them to their houses. Mr Lacalle Pou “was not going to imprison people”, says an adviser.

They seem to be paying heed. Alberto, a…



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