Covid in Central America: the pandemic in Honduras and the intervention of Sant’Egidio

September 29 2020 - TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS

Food for everyone

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Among the dirty containers, rubbish and shacks or in the squares of the city of Tegucigalpa, the Community of Sant'Egidio brings food to the many the Covid-19 emergency has pushed into poverty. Along with food, antibacterial gel and masks are distributed to prevent the spread of infection.

Since the socio-economic crisis caused by Coronavirus began in March, the distributions have been made in marginal areas of the capital three times a week. It is estimated that more than ten thousand people have been reached in Kennedy, Alameda and Miraflores colonies, in Jacaleapa Market, in Juan Pablo II and Morazán Avenues; in the city centre, El Obelisco Park, on Seventh Avenue and in La Libertad Park in Comayagüela.

Honduras at the time of Covid

Honduras continues to suffer greatly because of Covid-19 infection.
It is the Central American country with the second highest number of confirmed cases (73,840) and deaths (2,271). The president himself, Juan Orlando Hernández, tested positive.

In mid-September, after almost three months of lockdown, Honduras reopened its economic activities, however the latest data suggest that reopening has rapidly increased contagion.

The general situation of the country is very critical. On the one hand there is a deep mistrust against the government. The overwhelming majority of the population is convinced that it was unable to solve the problems of the health system and respond to the needs of the most vulnerable.

The Director of the Centro de Investigacion y Promocion de los Derechos Humanos (Cyprusdeh) - an independent and highly reputable institution - states that "The number of infected people is underestimated, the number of confirmed cases may seem low, indeed we are the Central American country that has done the least testing. The total number of cases is likely to be much higher".

During the long lockdown the necessary strict restrictions on the movement of the population have revealed many of the country's social problems.

70% of the Honduran population lives on informal economy. Therefore, the consequences of not being allowed to leave home have been appalling. Many families had no food at home and they were lacking resources to buy some because they could not work in the streets.

Due to the food crisis, there have been numerous assaults on trucks transporting food to supermarkets, particularly in larger cities and in Tegucigalpa in recent months.

Even today, thousands of women and children fill the streets of Tegucigalpa, begging to buy food. Many have lost their jobs and have not had enough support from the institutions.

In addition to the serious food emergency, there is concern about the lack of health personnel able to intervene if the number of infected people increases. According to figures provided by the Order of Doctors of Honduras, 40% of the country's health workers were infected by Covid-19 from May to July. The doctors denounce the lack of adequate protective equipment in the hospitals and also the improper use of face masks among the population.

In such situation it is necessary to intervene in support of the population, helping the poorest and the most marginalised to cope with difficulties in the coming months.