European Union proposes tighter Covid-19 vaccine export controls

A health worker conducts coronavirus tests at a homeless shelter in Montevideo, Uruguay, on February 4.
A health worker conducts coronavirus tests at a homeless shelter in Montevideo, Uruguay, on February 4. Matilde Campodonico/AP

Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou announced new restrictive measures that will be in place until April 12 to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Public offices will be closed except for essential services and in-person learning for all levels of education will also be suspended. Clubs, gyms, amateur sports, public shows, parties and social events will also be suspended, and restaurants and bars will close at midnight. “Free shops” on the border with Brazil, duty free shops where Brazilians shop to resell in their cities, will also be closed. 

“If the free shops are a hub (for risks), well we close them” said Uruguay’s President at a news conference on Tuesday night.

Uruguay’s neighbor Brazil is one of the world’s worst affected countries by the pandemic, with intensive care units overwhelmed, cases rising, and some essential medical supplies running low. It has the second highest number of cases of the virus and deaths, only exceeded by the United States.

The President also said the number of ICU beds in the country will be increased with 35 additional beds to the private sector, 10 to the military hospital and 84 to the public sector.

“Stay in your bubble, stay with your close family,” Lacalle said.

Uruguay set a record for new cases and deaths on Monday with 2,700 new cases and 19 new deaths. Also, on Monday, health authorities said 24 cases of the Brazilian P.1 variant were detected in the country. The country also set a record on the same day for number of active cases- 14,418 and a record for number of people in ICU – 188.

On Tuesday, the country recorded 1,801 new cases of the virus for a total of 86,007 cases since the pandemic began, according to the country’s health ministry. Also, on Tuesday, 16 additional virus-related deaths were recorded bringing the total death toll to 827.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) highlighted a surge in cases in Uruguay, at its weekly press conference on Tuesday. PAHO Director Dr. Carissa Etienne said Uruguay has reported more than 1,000 cases per day several times in the past few weeks “which is alarming given the size of the country.”

The current population of Uruguay is 3,482,469 as of March 24, 2021, based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data.

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