The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa Etienne said that the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 through all Americas accounted for a major part of global deaths last week. According to a press release, Etienne reported that hospitals in South and Central America are “struggling to cope with a heavy influx of COVID-19 patients”. She also informed that for the first time, Canada’s infection rates have surpassed the US COVID-19 infection rates.
Etienne said, “One in four COVID deaths reported worldwide last week took place right here in the Americas. Nearly every country in Central America is reporting a rise in infections”.
She added, “Hospitalizations are at an all-time high in Costa Rica, and we expect more patients will require care as the country reported a 50% jump in cases in the last week. Guatemala’s hospitals have also reached maximum capacity. ICU beds are running out in major metropolitan cities like Bogota and Medellin”.
The recent surge in infection is being led by new coronavirus variants. Slow vaccination rollouts due to lack of vaccine availability are also providing major setbacks for a number of countries in the Americas. Etienne urged countries with extra doses to consider donating a significant portion of vaccines to the Americas, where the life-saving doses are “desperately needed” and will be promptly used.
Further, the Director of PAHO informed that Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay are among the nations that are reporting rising coronavirus infections. In the Caribbean, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and the Bahamas are reporting surging infections, Etienne said. In total, 1.4 million new COVID-19 cases were reported in the Americas in the past week, while 36,000 people died of the disease.
According to the press note, as of this week, more than 317 million vaccine doses have been administered across 49 countries and territories in the region. Latin America and Caribbean nations have received nearly 7 million doses in the first allotment procured through COVAX. More COVAX-procured doses are also expected to arrive in May and June.
Etienne said, “While doses remain limited, most countries will see a considerable increase in doses from the first wave”.