The Covid-19 pandemic is showing “no signs of slowing down” in the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) director said on Tuesday, with the virus landing in Guianese shield countries on the continent`s northeastern coast.
Carissa Etienne told a virtual briefing from PAHO’s Washington headquarters that some Central American nations were seeing their highest weekly increase of cases since the virus landed, and that because of the high burden of infectious diseases and chronic conditions in the Americas, three out of 10 people – 325 million – were at “increased risk” of developing complications from COVID-19.
“The impact of co-morbidities on the spread of the virus should be a clarion call to every country in the Americas: Use data to tailor your response and make health your top priority,” she said.
Of particular concern, said Etienne, was the surge in cases in Bolivia, Colombia and Peru. She said that infections in Ecuador appear to be “peaking” with hard-hit Guayaquil showing the most progress.
She highlighted 900,000 new cases and nearly 22,000 deaths reported in the region over the past week, most of them in Brazil, Mexico and the United States.
Etienne said there were some bright spots. Chile, Argentina and Uruguay made “important progress” in strengthening influenza surveillance and vaccination programs, and there had been “very low” circulation of influenza this year, also highlighting the value of COVID-19 prevention measures such as handwashing and social distancing.
She said several Caribbean countries had implemented effective travel restrictions to control outbreak clusters, and as a result, had now been able to resume non-essential travel.