Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director, Carissa F. Etienne, has called on countries in the Americas to prepare to cope with a potential influx of COVID-19 patients.
Etienne called on the countries to increase surveillance, public health measures, and vaccination.
She spoke against a 27.2 percent COVID-19 surge throughout the region over the past week.
“Last week, our region reported more than 918,000 cases,” the Director said in a media briefing on Wednesday.
Etienne disclosed that COVID-19 hospitalisations increased in 18 countries, and admissions to Intensive Care Units rose in 13 countries and territories.
Following a period of lower transmission, the PAHO Director highlighted that many countries had abandoned public health measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing.
But with only 14 of the 51 countries and territories in the Americas reaching the World Health Organization (WHO) goal of 70% vaccination coverage, Etienne asserted that far too many people remain unprotected.
She noted that vaccination coverage is particularly low in some countries among those at risk of severe disease, including the elderly, pregnant women, and people with preexisting conditions.
And the PAHO Director declared that each country is only as protected as the most vulnerable in their population.
“It is time to take stock of these numbers and act. COVID-19 is again on the rise in the Americas,” Etienne told Wednesday’s news briefing.
“The better prepared our health systems are, the less lives we lose and the stronger and more resilient our societies become,” she explained.