CENTRAL AMERICA: 2020 HURRICANE SEASON
$617M IN DAMAGE CAUSED BY ETA AND IOTA IN NICARAGUA
95.5K PEOPLE IN SHELTERS ACROSS HONDURAS AS OF 27 NOVEMBER
Nearly a month after Tropical Storm Eta struck Central America, leaving impacts that Hurricane Iota aggravated a mere two weeks later, national response authorities and humanitarian organizations are beginning to set up longer-term response and recovery operations to begin addressing consequences that may pose challenges for years to come.
These plans will have to contend with the onset of seasonal cold fronts that will likely bring added rain to areas dealing with Eta and Iota's aftermath, creating the potential for added flooding and landslide threats.
Nicaragua reports significant damage to infrastructure in 56 municipalities, including more than 43,000 damaged or destroyed homes. Immediate Government response, in some cases supported by UN organizations and humanitarian partners with operational presence in country, includes supply deliveries of food and roofing and health assistance via medical brigades, among other priority actions. Officials continue working to restore basic service access for water, power and telecommunications.
The Government indicates that Eta and Iota caused damage worth US$617 million and economic losses of $121 million. Together with overall response expenditures, officials say the two storms are going to cost Nicaragua about 6 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Government adds that they are still carrying out evaluations in the agricultural sector and preparing family agriculture bonuses to mitigate food insecurity.
Eta and Iota have driven more than 95,000 people to shelters, with many in the north-western Sula Valley area reportedly in inadequate conditions. The city of San Pedro Sula has taken on many people first sheltered in other municipalities, such as La Lima, creating the need to move or set up shelters closer to home communities. Other shelters are experiencing insecurity due to criminal organizations exercising territorial control, a threat that is causing some to stay in their communities despite losing nearly everything.
Other areas such as Copán, El Paraíso and Santa Bárbara, continue to report landslides that are cutting off rural communities.
Guatemala’s CONRED civil protection agency reports that the cumulative effects of Eta and Iota have directly affected 1.7 million people, driving 31,100 people to official shelters and another 272,800 to unofficial shelters. CONRED indicates that the most affected departments are, in order of magnitude, Alta Verapaz, Izabal, Quiché and Huehuetenango, indicating pressing needs in WASH, food security, shelters and shelter management and economic recovery.
Some entire towns are all but underwater, with floodwaters and rainwaters yet to fully recede, prompting concerns of long-term shelter stay and even complete relocation of some of these populations.
LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN: COVID-19
Cases are referenced from PAHO/WHO 29 November COVID-19 Report - https://bit.ly/2O25YQw
13M CONFIRMED COVID-19 CASES IN LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN AS OF 29 NOVEMBER
8K+ DAILY NEW CASES IN MEXICO SINCE 23 NOVEMBER AFTER AS FEW AS 1,700 ON 18 NOVEMBER
16M COVID-19 VACCINE DOSES TO BE PURCHASED BY ECUADOR
At least 7 of Mexico City's 54 public hospitals responding to COVID-19 have full occupancy of COVID-19 beds with respirators as the country records seven consecutive days with more than 8,000 new daily cases after reporting as few as 1,700 on 18 November. Another 14 of health centres are trending towards being similarly overrun, with COVID-19 bed occupancies exceeding 70 per cent and rising.
The Ministry of Health indicates that 63 per cent of all general hospital beds for COVID-19 patients in the capital are occupied, adding that the states of Aguascalientes, Coahuila, Nuevo León, Querétaro and Zacatecas are at serious risk of joining Chihuahua and Durango as states under red alert per the country’s risk stoplight system due to renewed case increases.
The Minister of Health announced that the Government will purchase and import 16 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, with a first shipment of 50,000 doses to arrive in Ecuador during the first quarter of 2021. The Minister added that the doses would be administered to people free of charge.
The Ministry of Health is currently defining implementation and rollout protocols, saying they will start with health personnel on the frontlines of response and then progressively extending coverage to priority care groups.
The Government announced several new COVID-19 mitigation measures, including a nationwide curfew. The Ministry of Health will procure additional medical equipment and supplies as well as human resources to boost community hospital capacities, also adding rapid testing and strengthened communication campaigns.
The scaled-up response comes at a critical juncture, as cases continue to rise, testing remains backlogged and hospitals and clinics become increasingly overwhelmed, all while authorities continue to respond to the double impact of Eta and Iota. There are more than 50 people currently hospitalized with nine of those in intensive care, as total cases approach 6,000, of which more than 2,000 remain active cases.
The epicentre of the pandemic continues to be the Corozal and Orange Walk District, where people are much more vulnerable to contracting the virus compared to the rest of the country