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News briefs: World Bank expects recession in Latin America due to COVID-19

April 14, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted daily life in Costa Rica, which has declared a State of Emergency and enacted sweeping measures to slow its spread.

Here’s what you need to know today:

World Bank predicts Latin American recession

The World Bank predicted that the effects of the global crisis caused by COVID-19 will plunge Latin America into a recession with a contraction of regional GDP of 4.6% in 2020.

The economic forecast is compounded by meager growth in previous years, protests in 2019 and a fall in oil prices.

“A growth return of 2.6% is expected for 2021,” the World Bank estimated in a statement released Sunday.

It warned that this year there will be a recession in the main economies in the region, with a contraction of 5% in Brazil, 6% in Mexico and 5.2% in Argentina.

The blow will also be felt in Colombia, where GDP will is predicted to fall 2%; in Chile, where the contraction will be 3%; and in Peru, with a fall of 4.7%.

“The governments of Latin America and the Caribbean face the enormous challenge of protecting lives and at the same time limiting economic impacts,” said Martín Rama, the World Bank’s chief economist for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Rama summarized the situation as “dire” and noted that a response will require “targeted and consistent policies on a scale rarely seen before.”

In Central America, Costa Rica — whose economy was in relatively good health — will have an expected economic contraction of 3.3% this year; Nicaragua will deepen its crisis with a 4.3% drop in GDP; and Honduras could fall into crisis with a 2.3% retraction.

This section was adapted from an AFP story by Ariela Navarro. 

Canadian government offers financial support

Canadian citizens living abroad can apply for an emergency loan to facilitate their return to Canada and to cover basic essential needs, the country’s government has announced.

The repayable loan is meant for Canadians who “have no available source of funds to return home.”

To apply, Canadian citizens should contact their nearest Government of Canada Office. Contact information for the Embassy of Canada in San José is available here.

Air Canada has suspended flights to Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) near San José until at least April 30, while Air Transat and WestJet have suspended operations to Costa Rica until further notice, according to the airport.

Second U.S. repatriation flight offered

The April 17 repatriation flight from Costa Rica to Houston is sold out, according to the U.S. Embassy.

However, the Embassy indicated Tuesday that it has coordinated with United Airlines to offer a flight on Monday, April 20. The flight will depart Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) at 12:00 p.m. and arrive in Houston (IAH) at 4:46 p.m. 

Payment and booking should be completed with United Airlines.

Costa Rican citizens can book the flight from IAH to SJO via United Airlines and should contact the airline’s regional office for assistance if needed.

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