The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is concerned over surges in cases of COVID-19, with PAHO Director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, citing Cuba and Martinique as examples.
In the case of Cuba, Etienne observed that deaths are spiking and many provinces are reporting dramatic increases in new infections, whereas in Martinique there has been a tripling of cases, driven by large gatherings.
The PAHO Director also said worrisome hotspots persist in Amazonian states in Colombia and Peru.
“These trends illustrate how COVID-19 remains entrenched within our region, particularly in countries with low vaccination coverage. And the spread of variants only makes matters worse. Viruses have one goal: to multiply,” she declared.
“That’s why they often adapt to become less dangerous but more contagious over time. And that’s what we’re seeing with the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.Many of today’s “variants of concern” spread more easily, so they’re driving new infections in our region and around the world.
According to Etienne, so far, 47 countries and territories in the region of the Caribbean and Latin America region have detected at least one “variant of concern” and 11 have detected all four of today’s most concerning variants: alpha, beta, gamma, and delta.
She explained that new variants will emerge as long as the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to spread.
“We face a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and the only way to stop it is to expand vaccination. Vaccines are critical, even if no vaccine is 100% effective. Just as important are the public health measures – like physical distancing, mask wearing, avoiding crowds – and also infection control measures like testing, contact tracing, quarantining and isolation,” Etienne observed.
She said that together, these measures are the fundamentals of the response and they remain effective against variants of concern.