Chronicle on Quarantine

Brief chronicle of a long Latin American quarantine

On February 26, 2020, the screens of our televisions were focused on Brazil: there the first Latin American case of the new coronavirus disease was detected that was spreading throughout the world, and whose strange name composed of acronyms (SARS-CoV- virus) 2, the cause of the COVID-19 disease) very soon we would get used to it.

Many of us already knew that the arrival of the virus in our respective countries was imminent: two days later the first case was announced in Mexico, on March 3 the first in Chile and Argentina, on March 6 in Colombia and Peru, on March 9 in Panama, on March 10 in Bolivia, on March 11 in Cuba … the virus, it was clear, was already knocking on our doors.

Despite the efforts of the World Health Organization, there was no consensus regarding the nature of the disease. Depending on who one listened to or in which political party one belonged, the recommendations to prevent the disease were one or the other: use or not use a mask, use alcohol in hand gel, be exposed to the disease early or avoid all It costs the agglomerations and a crazy etcetera that today, a year and a half after the start of the pandemic, to a certain extent is sustained.

Nevertheless, it soon became clear that governments needed to take some steps. A look at what happened in Italy, Spain and other countries of the so-called “first world” gave us an X-ray of what could happen if the virus was left to run free. So in the month of March itself, the quarantines began.

On March 30, restrictions had already been announced in almost all the countries of the continent, starting with Uruguay (on March 13, the same day the first case was reported), and with the late incorporation of Mexico (March 30). , Cuba (March 31) and Nicaragua, a country in which no measures of this type have been announced despite the fact that on March 19 they had their first known case. The Latin American archipelago demonstrated, once again, its difficulty in responding in a unified and joint way to the challenges that were presented to it.

In fact, the very meaning of “quarantine” varies greatly from one country to the next. In some cases we were asked to stay at home, we were given more or less strict schedules to go shopping and specific permits to go to work, which had to be processed with the government. In others, we were simply advised to avoid meetings and limited the number of people who could occupy a space (a store, for example) at the same time. Gel alcohol became universal, more or less masks also, although there are still many people who refuse to use them or use them only when it is strictly necessary.

Back then, we thought that the disease would have a short life span. As had already happened with the swine fever or bird flu epidemics, in a few months life would resume its course and the case count would collapse. Perhaps that is why in principle they were raised in the short term. For this reason and because its impact was terrible on the economy of our region, the most unequal on the planet.

In May, many of our countries had announced a reopening, even if it were partial, of their respective economic activities. People, they said, have to go back to work. There were even those who implied that contagion and the death of many would simply be inevitable, and therefore it was not worth ruining the economy of a country to try to prevent it.

Others pointed out that the mortality of the disease is “low” (around 4%) and they assured that it is not very different from an ordinary flu: it was called “flu” or “flucinha”, sarcastically, when the outbreaks of contagion decimated the vulnerable populations of Guayaquil, Ecuador, during April 2020 , or in the Manaus region, Brazil, in early 2021.

Most of us, fearful of infecting our loved ones, assume a new model of life: social distancing, and we incorporate masks or masks into our daily arsenal.

When it was understood that the pandemic would not last a few months, a whole market for masks emerged: disposable, washable, printed, with motifs, of one or another football team, with one, two and three layers of fabric. The quarantine left its mark on fashion, in the way of greeting us (from afar, with the elbow, with the fist) and in the way of working (the luckiest, with the so-called home-office). The world was changing and many ventured that the future would simply be like this.

Today, near the end of 2021, we are still waiting, wondering if they are right. Masks, alcohol gel and distrust of closed spaces continue to accompany us, and the SARS-CoV-2 virus, unfortunately, in its new versions and mutations, too.


  • “Chronicle” in Wikipedia.
  • “The coronavirus in Latin America” ​​in AS / COA.
  • “Coronavirus: the interactive map that shows the measures or different types of quarantine adopted by the countries of Latin America” ​​in BBC News Mundo.

What is a chronicle?

A chronicle It is a type of narrative text in which real or fictional events are approached from a chronological perspective. They are often narrated by eyewitnesses, through personal language that uses literary resources. Usually considered as a hybrid genre between journalism, history and literature, the chronicle can encompass very different types of narration, such as the travel chronicle, the event chronicle, the gastronomic chronicle, and so on.