BRASILIA, June 30 (Reuters) – COVID-19 cases may be on the decline in North America, but in most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the end of the coronavirus pandemic “remains in the future distant, ”the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.
While infections in the United States, Canada and Mexico are declining, in Latin America and the Caribbean, cases are increasing and vaccination is seriously delayed. Only one in ten people have been fully immunized, which PAHO Director Carissa Etienne called “an unacceptable situation”.
“While we are seeing some respite from the virus in the countries of the northern hemisphere, for most of the countries in our region, the end remains the distant future,” she said.
The regional health agency has discouraged summer vacation travel to the Americas now that movement restrictions are lifted as more people are vaccinated in the northern hemisphere and travel destinations, such as the Caribbean, reopen for tourists.
Even people who have been vaccinated can get sick and spread COVID, Etienne said in a weekly briefing.
“Given the significant gaps in immunization coverage and the still looming risk of infection, this may not be the best time to travel – especially to places where epidemics are active or where hospital capacity may be. limited, ”she said.
Noting that the hurricane season in the Caribbean comes at a time of worsening epidemics, Etienne urged countries to equip hospitals and expand shelters to reduce the potential for transmission. Social distancing and proper ventilation become difficult during storms, she said.
The highly transmissible Delta variant has already been detected in a dozen countries in the Americas, but so far community transmission has been limited, said Jairo Mendez, PAHO’s viral disease adviser.
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 step up their vigilance and consider the need to limit movement or even close borders, PAHO Director of Health Emergencies Ciro Ugarte said.
According to a Reuters tally, there have so far been at least 37,441,000 reported infections and 1,272,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean, a third more than in Asia and the Caribbean. Africa reunited.
Reporting by Anthony Boadle Editing by Sonya Hepinstall
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