Posted: Monday, August 9, 2021. 7:09 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr Carissa Etienne, has marked the “grim pandemic milestone” of two million deaths from COVID-19 in the Americas, calling the number “a distressing reminder that we must act urgently to prevent further suffering” and reiterating her plea for more vaccines for the Americas.
At a press briefing this week, she said that more than 1.2 million COVID-19 cases and 20,000 COVID-related deaths were reported over the last week. COVID-19 infections are accelerating in North America, “driven primarily by a surge in cases in the southern and eastern United States and in central Mexico.”
Cases are rising in the Caribbean and dropping across South America, although some Brazilian states have seen an increase in infections, Dr Etienne said. “This underscores that, until we effectively contain transmission, infections can surge quickly. So, masks, social distancing and other public health measures remain crucial.”
“Today, vaccines, which are a beacon of hope to control this pandemic, remain out of reach for far too many people in the Americas. Just 18% of people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” she continued.
Answering a question on the Delta variant of the virus, now present in 22 countries in the Americas, she said, “The best way to stop the virus, regardless of the variant, is to reinforce public health measures including appropriate use of masks, social distancing, isolation of patients, quarantine of contacts, and vaccination.”
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