Uruguay has been a uncommon brilliant spot in coronavirus-ravaged South America, because of a extremely developed analysis infrastructure, a convention of at-home medical care, and a robust public well being system. Two key advisors to the federal government’s pandemic response crew clarify how they scaled up their assessments so quick and why they’re now encouraging individuals to go exterior extra.
The primary circumstances in Uruguay have been confirmed on March 13, and the nationwide working group that we convened of about 60 individuals met with the president on April 16. There have been two most important arms, one in well being and one in knowledge science and modeling.
Covid deaths as of August 19, 2020. Supply: WHO Dashboard
The variety of circumstances by no means actually constructed as much as the purpose the place we had no management. You would nearly monitor our epidemic by 5 or 6 distinct outbreaks that we’ve had, all with round 50 to 60 circumstances, they usually’re all mainly remoted. The newest outbreak was in a province referred to as Treinta y Tres that’s near the Brazilian border, and this was the second outbreak we had of Brazilian origin. That border is technically closed, however there are some border cities that are binational, so it’s onerous to implement. Really, the primary road in one among these cities is the border. So individuals will simply cross freely. You can’t actually be as locked down as we wish in these border cities.
Proper now there’s a fairly good functionality of PCR testing. [Editor’s note: polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, is the standard method of identifying a virus from its genetic material.] We have now constructed up sufficient capability that if there’s any outbreak, we will do contact tracing not simply of the instant contacts, however even second-order contacts. We’ve been doing that, plus some random testing of individuals round outbreak sizzling spots. As for the individuals who really do the sphere testing, we have now been counting on the present capability of the well being ministry when it comes to infectious illnesses. We’re used to coping with other forms of epidemics, like dengue, and to this point we haven’t had a excessive sufficient variety of circumstances to contain individuals exterior their experience. However it’s not likely excessive tech. These guys are doing the job because it has lengthy been executed: numerous cellphone calls.
There was an early scientific response even earlier than the illness arrived within the nation when it comes to interacting with analysis networks world wide and sharing reagents with totally different universities and facilities overseas, such because the College of Hong Kong and the Pasteur Institute in France, to generate molecular biology assessments right here. Our first assessments emerged from an settlement between the College of the Republic, a neighborhood affiliate of the Pasteur Institute, and our central authorities.
One particular factor we have now right here that’s maybe not so widespread world wide is that we have now loads of home-based medication. We are able to inform individuals to remain at dwelling and the physician will come to you— not a paramedic, an precise physician. So no person actually went to the hospital in the beginning of the pandemic, and there was no dissemination [of the virus] there. The testing groups went on to individuals’s houses with all of the tools on them, they usually did the sampling there. That was a key issue, I feel, in maintaining the preliminary outbreak below management.
I feel the preliminary scare performed a task in getting individuals to comply with social distancing tips as a result of we have been getting information primarily from Italy and Spain, and most of our inhabitants has Italian or Spanish origins. We have been getting these photos from Italy and Spain that have been actually scary, and when the federal government got here out in a press convention and stated “You have to keep at dwelling and have to social-distance,” individuals have been very keen to conform, even when our lockdown wasn’t obligatory.
Immediately, though Uruguay has one of many older populations in South America, we predict it’s mandatory for the aged to have affection and to have talks in patios or gardens, within the open air. There may be little or no an infection that occurs in open areas. So we at the moment are selling social networks that work together in open areas, sustaining social distance, and with a comparatively brief time period, however making an attempt to keep away from isolation as a result of that was creating a big bodily and psychological stress within the aged.
Another factor: we have now this common conventional drink right here referred to as maté [a caffeine-rich herbal tea], which you usually move from one individual to a different. This social custom, which has been with us for a whole lot of years, has been lower dramatically. We’re not sharing maté anymore. We do single-serve maté now.
This interview has been condensed and edited for readability.