COVID-19 cases worsen in Latin America, no end in sight - health agency

A medical worker cares for a patient with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the intensive care unit (ICU) of Clinica Nueva El Lago in Bogota, Colombia, June 3, 2021. REUTERS / Luisa Gonzalez

BRASILIA, June 30 (Reuters) – COVID-19 cases may decline in North America, but in most Latin American and Caribbean countries, the end of the coronavirus pandemic remains “a distant future,” said the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO ). On Wednesday.

While infections are falling in the US, Canada, and Mexico, cases are rising in Latin America and the Caribbean, and vaccination is lagging badly. Only one in ten people is fully vaccinated, which PAHO director Carissa Etienne described as an “unacceptable situation”.

“While we are seeing some postponement of the virus in countries in the northern hemisphere, the end remains a distant future for most countries in our region,” she said.

Given that hurricane season in the Caribbean comes at a time when the outbreaks are worsening, Etienne urged countries to equip hospitals and expand housing to reduce the transmission potential. Social distancing and adequate ventilation become difficult during storms, she said.

The highly transmissible Delta variant has already been detected in a dozen countries in America, but community transmission has been limited so far, said PAHO viral disease advisor Jairo Mendez.

However, it has been found in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Peru, the United States, and Mexico, where it has spread to Mexico City, according to PAHO.

Given the presence of such variants, countries in the region should increase their vigilance and consider the need to restrict travel or even close borders, said Ciro Ugarte, PAHO director of health emergencies.

There have been at least 37,441,000 reported infections and 1,272,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean so far, a third more than Asia and Africa combined, according to a Reuters tally.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle
Adaptation by Sonya Hepinstall

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