The Americas reported more than 1.2 million new Covid-19 cases and almost 34,000 related deaths last week.
With nearly 40% of all global deaths attributed to the region, it’s a clear sign that “transmission is far from being controlled," the Pan American Health Organization’s director, Dr. Carissa Etienne, said Wednesday.
Assessing the pandemic evolution across the region, Etienne warned that even as countries like the US and Brazil have reported a reduction in cases, Canada is seeing higher rates of infections than the US and Cuba continues to drive most new infections in the Caribbean.
In South America, Covid-19 cases are increasing in areas of Guyana and Bolivia that border with Brazil while Colombia is expected to see steep rises following days of protests in the country, Etienne said.
The region’s health systems continue to struggle across the region, Etienne told reporters. “Nearly 80% of our intensive care units are filled with Covid patients and numbers are even more dire in some places,” she said.
In Chile and Peru, 95% of intensive care unit beds are occupied, the majority, by Covid patients, Etienne said. In Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, where 96% of ICU beds are being used, authorities have tightened restrictions to avoid the collapse of hospitals, the PAHO director added.
Brazil has reported waiting lists for ICU beds, according to Etienne.
India’s B.1.617 Covid variant has been detected in six countries in the region with specific cases mainly among travelers, Sylvain Aldighieri, PAHO’s incident manager, told journalists during PAHO’s weekly briefing.
More than 114 million people have been fully vaccinated in the Americas, PAHO officials said.