The Director of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, has said that given the significant gaps in COVID-19 vaccine coverage and the still imminent risk of infection, now may not be the ideal time for travel – especially in places with active outbreaks or where hospital capacity may be limited.
She made the remarks while addressing the issue of summer travel and its potential impact on transmission.
The PAHO Director noted that with children on vacation, many parents face important choices of how to make the most of these summer months.
She observed that as more people are vaccinated in the Northern Hemisphere, movement restrictions are lifted and travel destinations reopen for tourists.
As a result, Etienne said many families may be considering booking summer vacations.
“We must remember, however, that while vaccines protect us from the worst of this virus, even those who are vaccinated can become sick and spread COVID,” she told a press conference on Wednesday.
According to Etienne, last week, the Americas reported 1.1 million new COVID infections and 30,000 COVID-related deaths in the region.
In this regard, the region’s total case count has risen to more than 72 million and deaths to nearly 1.9 million.
Etienne described the figures as ‘staggering’ considering that at this time last year the entire world had reported 10 million COVID-19 cases and 500,000 deaths.
And she told the news conference that while there is some reprieve from the virus in countries in the Northern Hemisphere, for most countries in the region, the end remains a ‘distant future.’
Etienne also revealed that just one in ten people in Latin American and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
She said it is an unacceptable situation.