How are you doing? Greetings from Uruguay, where on Thursday the government announced a partial reopening of borders as our first ‘wave’ begins to downturn 😅
You may recall that after spending the first nine months of the pandemic with virtually zero COVID 19 cases, at the end of November we were shocked to pass the 100 new cases per day record, and grew more so as growth quickly became exponential 🦠
The end of year is a time when Uruguayans, especially those living in nearby Argentina, take a ferry across to spend the holidays with their families. In response the government closed the borders completely for the very first time — even to citizens— unless they already had a ticket to travel. In turn, the majority of Uruguayans took steps. Many radically reducing the number of people around the dinner table for the fiestas and opting to see less friends in the open air only and distanced. In mid December we had been warned to expect 1200 new cases a day by New Year’s Eve, if people didn’t change their behaviour. I’m happy to tell you that that number wasn’t reached until January 10 💪 Since then numbers are falling. (Remember you can see the daily figures on the Coronavirus UY app for yourself — watch our video explainer).
So residents, citizens and exceptions will be able to return —pending negative covid tests and quarantining on arrival of course — from midnight on February 1. If you have property in Uruguay, you’ll be encouraged to learn that the governor of Maldonado is lobbying the government to open up travel exceptions to foreign property owners as a next step. Borders continue to be closed to regular travelers.
All this has got me thinking about Uruguay’s tradition of informed approaches to public health and a population that embraces public health campaigns 🇺🇾 Check out the 2006 smoking ban and the legalisation of marijuana. Check out the response to the Zika threat of 2016 (spoiler alert: there was only ever one case and that was imported).
It’s also got me thinking about the remarkable calibre of medical professionals and scientists. Did you know that the mammogram was invented in Uruguay, a Uruguayan ‘coronavirus hunter’ was one of Nature’s “10 people who helped shape science in 2020” and just this week a Uruguayan scientist won a major prize for his theory on the first split second of the universe? Wow… 🔬
I hope you’re doing well, . It’s great to be in touch.
All the best