Uruguay covid cases back to 2020 levels

As Reuters reports Uruguay covid cases are down to 5% of its peak, we run you through the numbers and maps we access every day here in Uruguay.
By Karen A Higgs
Last updated on July 30, 2021

The Coronavirus UY app has been a great way to monitor the pandemic. Remarkably the app was created and released way back in mid March 2020, just days after the first cases of Covid were announced. Many of us check the app—which anyone based in Uruguay can download onto their phones and tablets—every day around 9pm when it’s been fully updated.

It allows us to go back and look at the cases every day since the pandemic started. At one point there were technical glitches in collection of the numbers (unrelated to the app). Those ‘late’ cases were added and carefully marked. It’s very reassuring as you literally see cases are being very carefully monitored.

The app is a powerful tool for transparency. You feel being treated as a grown-up, and a player in the process.

Here’s a flash of what we saw on Thursday July 29. The figures were for the previous day.

covid uruguay cases

Reading left to right:

  • New cases 198
  • Total cases since the start 380,976
  • Cases in ICU 68
  • Active cases 2,305
  • Recovered 273
  • Total recoveries 372,721
  • Deaths 9
  • Total deaths 5,950
  • Tests carried out 8,991
  • % of positive tests 2.20
  • Harvard Index 5.83
  • Variation in Harvard Index -0.16

How many new cases of covid per day in Uruguay

In the second graphic below you can see how case numbers have nose-dived in the last 60 days. They went from a peak of over 4,000 new cases in mid May to a low point of 150 cases in July. The Delta variant was first detected in Uruguay in July, so it remains to be seen if the numbers can continue to drop. Either way it’s a relief to be back to levels not seen since 2020 (as seen in the first graphic).

Where is recovery taking place fastest (Data by department)

This graphic can be sorted by Harvard Index (HI), active cases, recovered cases, deaths, total cases and new cases on any particular day. The HI is the daily average of new cases in the last seven days per 100,000 inhabitants.

It has been such a relief to see the HI changing colour. During 2020 the map was almost constantly green. Meaning just one new case on average in the prior 7 days per 100,000 inhabitants. The colour started to change in December for the first time. And the map became horrifyingly red between mid April and mid June.

It’s so good to see the map totally yellow (HI between 1 and 10) with the first patch of green (HI less than 1). Pay attention to Montevideo where half the country’s population is based. At current rates in a month we could potentially be green.

Intensive care beds available

Uruguay added hundreds of intensive care beds in 2021 so there are currently 939 beds in intensive care in the entire country. At the moment less than 10% of them are occupied with covid patients. 417 are free.

Even at the height of cases ICU capacity was never saturated overall, although in some departments it was. It is standard practice in Uruguay for patients in less populated departments to be moved to others for treatment. However it is likely that stress on the system did increase the number of deaths between April and June.

Uruguays’ testing is serious

This is where I feel that Uruguay has done really well. In fact sometimes it’s felt unfair to compare the number of cases in Uruguay which are very well tested and documented to cases in other parts of the world where people were simply not getting tested.

For the first time since the pandemic started, I had to get tested, not once, but twice in June. The app on my phone now tells me exactly when I got tested, the type of test and the result.

The first time I called the doctor because I had a slight sore throat. I was told I had to go for a covid test as that was a potential symptom. I hadn’t been in contact with anybody and explained that, but I was told, no, you have that symptom so you have to go and get tested. It was 9am. I called to schedule a test and was offered one at midday. I was texted the negative result at 8pm. The second time I was in contact with someone for 30 minutes who later tested positive. I had to get tested and quarantine until I got a second negative test seven days later. This at a time where the registered case numbers showed Uruguay ‘worst in the world’ for covid cases. My relatives in the UK have told me how difficult it was to get a test. A colleague in India couldn’t get tested for love nor money.

So it does feel that in Uruguay everyone who was positive was tested and their cases registered. That doesn’t appear to have been the experience in many other countries.

The latest on the pandemic in Uruguay

Jan 10 2023 The Uruguay government declared the end of the health emergency on April 1 2022 after 752 days. 82% of the population has received at least two shots.  

Disclaimer: Data is from the Coronavirus UY app, which is approved by the Uruguay Ministry of Health. To be able to see these graphics for yourself you must be in Uruguay and registered on the Coronavirus UY app. As they are so useful to see how the country has been dealing with the pandemic, I decided to share some screenshots and explanations with you. Any analysis is based on my own reading and research as an informed member of society in Uruguay. I’m not an expert.




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