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PAHO warns Covid-19 is far from under control in the Americas

May 12, 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic is far from being under control in the Americas despite the reduction in cases in the United States and Brazil, the countries in the world with the most fatalities from the virus, the Pan American Health Organization warned Wednesday.

“Almost 40% of all global deaths (from Covid-19) reported last week occurred here in the Americas,” PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said at a press conference.

“This is a clear sign that transmission is far from being controlled in our region.”

Etienne noted an acceleration of infections in much of the continent and an occupation of beds in Intensive Care Units (ICU) of almost 80%.

In South America, hard hit by the pandemic in recent months, she highlighted an increase in cases in Guyana and Bolivia, bordering Brazil, as well as in Colombia, which has been shaken recently by massive anti-government demonstrations.

“In Colombia, where Covid-19 cases have been increasing steadily for several weeks, we expect even more pronounced increases after a week of protests,” Etienne warned.

She said that in Chile and Peru, 95% of ICU beds are in use, the majority by patients with Covid-19, and described a worrying scenario in Buenos Aires, with 96% ICU occupancy, and in some areas of Brazil, where there is a waiting list.

She also noted high rates of infection in Canada, particularly in areas with indigenous populations, and said that Cuba “continues to drive the majority of new infections in the Caribbean.”

In Central America, she described increases in cases in the areas of Costa Rica and Honduras that border Nicaragua, and in the border regions of Guatemala and El Salvador.

“It is not surprising that the increase in hospitalizations in our region is causing an unprecedented oxygen supply challenge in the entire American continent,” Etienne said, pointing to Bolivia and Antigua and Barbuda as “highly affected places.”

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