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COVID-19 on the march again in the Caribbean, Central and South America

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Posted: Wednesday, May 19, 2021. 1:03 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reports that there were over 1.2 million new COVID-19 cases in the Americas in the past week and about 31,000 deaths.

Although COVID-19 infections generally have declined in the past month in the region, new cases and deaths are still on the rise in many countries, Director Dr. Carissa Etienne said at a press briefing earlier today. Many Caribbean countries – including the Bahamas, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago – have seen COVID-19 deaths double in the last week. Costa Rica, Panama, and parts of Honduras are reporting dramatic increases in new infections.

Infections are increasing in Bolivia and French Guiana, while the “decreasing trends” in Brazil in previous weeks have paused. “Despite overall reductions in most South American countries, some hotspots in Argentina and Uruguay saw a doubling of cases and deaths in the last week,” she said.

However, pandemic conditions have changed profoundly in the United States, “where widespread [vaccine] coverage has led to a sharp reduction in U.S. COVID infections, deaths and hospitalizations,” Dr. Etienne said. “The progress we’re seeing in the U.S. is a testament to the power of safe and effective COVID vaccines, but it underscores the vital importance of accelerating access to vaccines throughout our region, so that other countries can fully immunize their populations.”

“We urgently need more vaccines for Latin America and the Caribbean, a region that has been put to the test by this pandemic,” she emphasized.

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