America: Rising COVID-19 cases should be a ‘wake-up call’ |
America: Rising COVID-19 cases should be a ‘wake-up call’ |

America: Rising COVID-19 cases should be a ‘wake-up call’ |

More than 918,000 cases was admitted last week, an increase of 27.2 per cent during the previous week, and over 3,500 deathshas latest information from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) revealed.

Eighteen nations experienced increases in hospital admissions, while admissions to intensive care increased in 13 countries and territories.

»The rise in cases should serve as a wake-up call. When people get sick, hospitals become overwhelmed, health systems are challenged, and the number of deaths increases. ” said Dr. Carissa Etienne, PAHO Director, speaks during her weekly media briefing.

Regional round-up

North America stood for more than half of all infections in the region. Cases have been rising for the past seven weeks, driven by new infections in the United States, which registered more than 605,000 new cases, an increase of 33 percent.

The largest increase in cases occurred in Central America, where infections increased by 80 per centwhile Brazil in South America recorded more than 120,000 cases – an increase of nine percent.

Meanwhile, Argentina experienced nearly 34,000 cases, which is staggering 92 pct. increase over the previous week. Other countries in the sub-region also saw increases, while Venezuela, Paraguay and Brazil recorded an increase in deaths.

Cases in the Caribbean have been rising for five consecutive weeks. Infections increased 9.3 percent, and deaths 49 percent, compared to the previous week. Fourteen countries and territories also reported increases in hospital admissions.

Dr. Etienne urged governments to take stock and act on these figures. “The truth is, this virus is does not go away for the time being,” she said.


Health workers in Burzaco, Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina (file photo).

After a period of lower coronavirus transmission, many national and local authorities abandon mask mandates and physical distance requirements and have reopened borders. But many people in America are still in danger.

Only 14 of the 51 PAHO countries and territories have reached WHO goal of vaccinating 70 percent of their populations. There are still inconsistencies in the coverage of vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, people with pre-existing conditions, and indigenous and Afro-descendant communities.

Dr. Etienne stressed that it is wearing masks and practicing at a physical distance still valid measures to reduce virus transmission.

“Governments should continue to monitor COVID-19 trends carefully, adapt their guidance to protect the most vulnerable and always be ready to upscale these social measures when there is an increase in cases or deaths, ”she said.

The public can also play a role by embracing vaccines, masks and other protective measures, she added.

Learning from the pandemic

Dr. Etienne has recommended those countries should not forget experiences over the past two years of living with the new disease.

They need to stay focused on the virus, in the midst of a constant drop in testing. Even where self-tests are available, the results are not always reported to the health authorities.

Testing and monitoring are our eyes and ears for this pandemic and can help governments make informed decisions, ”said the PAHO chief, stressing the importance of maintaining and strengthening related infrastructure.

At the same time, governments must also continue to invest in their health systems to respond quickly to any new developments and to meet health needs beyond COVID-19.

Dr. Etienne recalled that when COVID-19 vaccines were first rolled out over a year ago, the concern was over equity and secure enough doses to cover the most vulnerable people.

“Supply was the most important barrier throughout 2021. That is no longer the case,” she said. “We have sufficient doses to cover those most at risk, and we have an obligation to do so.”

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