The Americas Reports 40% of COVID-19 Fatalities
New COVID-19 cases increased in Central America, the Caribbean, and some South American countries last week, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa F. Etienne reported in a press statement issued today.
In total, the Americas has reported nearly 74 million COVID-19 cases and 1.9 million deaths – more than a third of COVID cases and more than 40% of deaths reported globally.
“Cases arise when complacency sets in,” she warned during a press briefing.
“We are all tired, but after experiencing successive peaks of infections in the same locations, we must break this cycle by embracing public health measures early and consistently.”
Cases are increasing in Central American countries, including El Salvador and Guatemala, where COVID deaths have also surged. In addition, new infections are spiking in the Caribbean, where Cuba has reported the highest number of weekly cases since the start of the pandemic. In the British Virgin Islands, cases have tripled in the weeks after reopening to cruise ships. And in Mexico and the United States, infections are rising.
But creating a “mixed picture” of the virus’s trajectory, new COVID-19 infections declined overall by nearly 20% in the Americas last week as the pandemic eased in much of South America. “COVID infections, hospitalizations, and deaths are dropping across most of the continent, including in Brazil, Peru, Uruguay, and Chile,” Dr. Etienne commented.
She added, however, that cases are rising in Argentina and reaching their highest levels in Colombia, “raising concerns about the health system’s ability to cope as 98% of ICU beds are already in use.”
“When variants of concern circulate,” she continued, “it’s even more important that countries step up surveillance, especially while vaccine coverage remains low.”