New spikes in infections are also exacerbating instability and violence in several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, officials said, noting political upheavals in Haiti, Cuba and other countries as the delta variant settles in the Americas.
“Many countries, including the United States, are seeing a resurgence of infections in North America, the United States and Mexico are reporting an increase in new infections in most states, many countries in Central America are also seeing case, ”said Dr Carissa Etienne, Director. of the Pan American Health Organization, the WHO regional office for the Americas, said Wednesday.
Countries in Central America and the Caribbean like El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba and the Virgin Islands are also experiencing an increase in the number of new infections.
Thousands of protesters in Cuba have taken to the streets this week over their frustration with a crippled economy hit by food and electricity shortages. The rare protests, the largest the communist country has seen since the 1990s, come as the government struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic, pushing the island’s fragile health system to the brink.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Monday that Cubans were “tired of the mismanagement of the Cuban economy, tired of the lack of adequate food and, of course, of an adequate response to the Covid pandemic -19 ”.
The seven-day average of new cases in Cuba has more than quadrupled in the past month to 5,659 in the past seven days, compared to an average of 1,256 per day in mid-June, according to CNBC analysis data compiled by Johns Hopkins Unversity. Deaths in the small island nation have also dropped from around 10 a day a month ago to around 32, the data shows.
Overall, deaths and hospitalizations have declined in South America in recent weeks. But with cases on the rise again, authorities expect hospitalizations and deaths, which often delay by a few weeks, could soon follow.
Cases in Argentina and Colombia have reached record levels as new infections exceed levels seen at the start of the pandemic, according to Etienne. Neighboring countries like Honduras and Guatemala have not obtained enough doses of the vaccine to immunize even 1% of their population, which could be disastrous if the increase in infections from neighboring countries spills out, she said. declared.
Colombia, as well as Brazil, Cuba and Haiti are experiencing situations where political unrest and waves of protests make it even more difficult for health workers and residents to access vital resources and maintain public messages to encourage vaccinations.
“Growing violence, instability and overcrowded shelters could become active hot spots for Covid transmission,” Etienne said. “Limited supplies and violence also hamper the ability of health workers to safely care for patients in need. In some cases, patients may avoid searching due to safety concerns. “
PAHO officials are working to get vaccines to Haiti, where the island has yet to begin vaccinating its residents, even though it has been allocated 760,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine through of the Covax facility, a WHO-backed effort to distribute doses to low-income countries around the world, according to the Washington Post. Violence erupted there following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise last week.
PAHO has also warned against reopening their economies too quickly, warning that countries that succeeded in deterring initial waves of infection generally continue to ignore necessary public health measures like masks and social distancing, leaving itself open to a further increase in cases by variants that can bypass the protective vaccine.
“Health and well-being must be prerequisites for the reactivation of the economy in the context of Covid-19 because if the pandemic is not brought under control, economic reactivation will be very difficult,” said Etienne.
CNBC’s Amanda Macias contributed to this article.