COVID-19 pandemic has not peaked in Americas yet, PAHO says
The COVID-19 pandemic may not peak until July, leaders of the Pan American Health Organization said during a virtual press conference today.
Carissa F. Etienne, MD, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), said there are nearly 4 million cases and 240,000 deaths attributable to COVID-19 in the region.
“This epidemic is still accelerating in the region. We are not seeing transmission slowing down,” Etienne said.
She added that cases of COVID-19 are still increasing in the following areas:
- Florida and Texas;
- Brazil, Venezuela and Peru, particularly where those countries intersect;
- French Guiana, Suriname and Brazil, especially where those countries meet;
- the shared border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic; and
- the northern part of Costa Rica that is adjacent to Nicaragua.
“Why do borders matter? Before COVID-19, these areas were home to vulnerable populations such as indigenous groups, remote communities, migrants — people who move regularly in search of family and new opportunity,” she said. “These areas also often lack robust health infrastructure, have limited capacities, and the quality of these services is often low. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated these vulnerabilities.”
Etienne said numerous coordinated steps are needed to curb COVID-19 transmission, including health care worker training; ensuring a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment; adequate screening and testing; and the sharing of epidemiological data throughout the region.
Although the calls for action in the Americas may seem similar in many parts of the world, Marcos Espinal, MPH, DrPH, MD, PAHO’s director of the department of communicable diseases, cautioned against drawing any comparisons.
“[Latin America] has different elements than Europe,” Espinal said through a translator. “We have more inequality and fewer resources than them. It is important to take all those aspects before we can forecast the situation.”