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Coronavirus. Dengue. Zika. Ebola. Though non-communicable diseases dominate the mortality and morbidity landscape worldwide, including the Americas, it is epidemics of infectious diseases that dominate the attention of the media and the public given their capacity to overload health systems and cause crises of morbidity and mortality.

The current pandemic of SARS-CoV-2 and its pathological manifestation COVID-19 is a prime example of this overload. As of March 25 (the time of this writing), there have been 3,285 deaths in China, 2,077 in Iran, 7,577 in Italy and 3,647 in Spain, where fatalities are doubling every two days. These are very different countries, with very different demographics, baseline health status, and health system organizations, but all are strained to continue responding to the crisis. Whether this pandemic will strongly impact Latin American countries is yet to be seen. Still, some governments across the region have already imposed strong measures to prevent the spread of the virus. In contrast, others have decided not to adopt measures, or warn of the potential economic impacts of disproportionate measures.