COVID-19 is on the rise in the Americas, the virus ‘will not disappear soon’: PAHO

SAO PAULO: COVID-19 is on the rise again in the Americas as many countries have abandoned measures such as wearing masks and social distancing and many lagging behind in vaccination rates, the Pan American Health Organization said on Wednesday (May 18). Health (PAHO).

Cases in the Americas rose 27.2 percent last week from the previous week, driven mainly by a spike in infections in the United States, according to PAHO.

More than half of a total 918,000 infections came from North America, as US cases rose 33 percent to 605,000 in the past week. Infections in North America have now been rising for the last seven weeks.

PAHO Director Dr. Carissa Etienne noted that many countries and local governments are waiving protective measures against the virus and have reopened borders after a period of lower transmission.

“Masking and social distancing have served us well since the beginning of the pandemic and remain valid measures to reduce transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that governments should be ready to expand these measures whenever there is an increase. of cases or deaths.

Too many people remain at risk, PAHO said, as only 14 of the 51 countries and territories in the Americas have reached the World Health Organization goal of vaccinating 70 percent of their population, it added during a press conference. .

PAHO said new COVID-19 infections and deaths in the region have risen steadily over the past four weeks, with more than 3,500 deaths reported last week.

Central America saw the largest percentage increase in cases, with infections rising 80 percent. In Brazil, the second most populous country in the Americas, infections rose 9 percent to 120,000.

“It is time to take stock of these numbers and act. COVID is on the rise again in the Americas,” said Etienne. “The truth is that this virus is not going to go away any time soon.”

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