Global health leaders are calling for caution as the holiday season approaches, pointing to a 23% surge in coronavirus cases in the Americas last week, a surge that follows surges in Europe that officials warn could be a “window into the future for the Americas. “
“We see time and time again how the dynamics of the spread of infection in Europe is reflected here a few weeks later,” said Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, during a briefing on Wednesday. “The future is unfolding in front of us, and this should be a wake-up call for our region, because we are even more vulnerable.”
On the same day, the head of the World Health Organization urged not to succumb to complacency, expressing concern about “a false sense of security that vaccines have ended the pandemic and that vaccinated people do not need any other precautions.”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “While Europe is once again the epicenter of a pandemic, no country or region is left behind.”
He highlighted concerns in Europe, where, according to the agency, nearly 60% of coronavirus deaths worldwide were concentrated between November 15 and 21. At the time, new cases jumped 11%, according to the WHO. European countries are introducing new locks and restrictions in an attempt to reduce the number of people ahead of the holidays at the end of the year.
PAHO indicated an upward trend in the number of new cases in the United States and Canada, with “a doubling in the number of new infections in the last week” in the Yukon and Northwest Territories of Canada.
In the United States, the number of new daily reported cases has increased by 8% in the past week, and the number of deaths by 9%, according to the Washington Post. During this time, the number of hospitalizations increased by 6%. The situation is especially dire in the pockets of the nation. In Michigan, which is the leader in COVID hospitalizations, unvaccinated COVID-19 patients swarm in emergency departments and drive opportunities to debilitating levels.
In Canada, as of Wednesday, the number of new confirmed cases in the past two weeks increased by 5% over the previous two weeks, according to Our World in Data, citing data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. …
During a Thanksgiving eve briefing, health officials called for mitigation measures, including masking, social distancing and crowd avoidance, to be followed regardless of vaccination status.
“During these holiday periods, not just Thanksgiving in the United States, of course, but through the end of the year, it’s really important that we all continue to take steps to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe,” said Maria Van Kerkhove. , epidemiologist leading WHO’s response to coronavirus during a briefing. “For those of you who have access to vaccines, who are offered vaccinations, please get vaccinated when it’s your turn.”
In the United States, just over 59% of the entire population is fully vaccinated, according to a Post tracking. More than 19% were fully vaccinated and boosted.
As of November 19, about three-quarters of Canada’s population is fully vaccinated, according to a government dashboard.
In South America, many countries are reporting an increase in cases, including the Southern Cone, with the highest peaks in Bolivia and Paraguay. Central America is the only region that has seen a decline in the number of new infections.
Bolivia reported a 50% increase in the number of new confirmed cases in the last 14 days, compared to the previous 14 days, according to Our World in Data.
In the Bolivian department of Santa Cruz, which includes the city of the same name – the country’s most populous area – the number of cases has increased by 400% after recent strikes and protests, when hundreds of thousands of people gathered for several days to protest. money laundering laws have been passed.
Paraguay, where just over a third of the population is vaccinated, has seen a 73% spike in incidence in the past two weeks, prompting health officials to sound the alarm.
Ecuador, which has survived one of the most aggressive COVID outbreaks in Latin America in the region and where nightmarish images of bodies thrown on the streets of cities like Guayaquil have rocked the world, is also seeing a 32% rise in new cases.
The country has recovered from a brutal first wave of 2020 and now has one of the highest vaccination rates in South America at 62.5%. Five of the region’s 12 countries have vaccination rates of over 60% of the population, according to data monitored by The Post.
In Peru, the country with the world’s highest COVID death rate per capita, Health Minister Hernando Sevallos warned this week that the small country would face a “dangerous rise in incidence” and urged people to be careful ahead of Christmas, according to locals. … news reports.
Colombia’s two largest cities, Bogota and Medellin, are reporting an increase in cases and hospitalizations, especially among young people. The country has also seen a 30 percent increase in the incidence.
The countries of the Southern Cone in Chile, where more than 84% of the population is vaccinated, and Argentina, which has imposed a strict curfew and long restrictions on the time of the pandemic, are also seeing a rise in new cases.
The Caribbean region of Trinidad and Tobago has an average of 555 new confirmed cases per day in seven days, the highest rate according to Our World in Data. At least five of its hospitals are more than 80% busy, according to PAHO. Barbados, the Cayman Islands and the Dominican Republic also report high rates of new infections.
The upsurge in many countries in South America came after the region experienced a short but sharp decline in incidence following a sharp spike in the summer.
Containment measures in Latin America and the Caribbean have been uneven and largely sluggish as governments have had to grapple with financial devastation and poor health infrastructure and have long wanted to kickstart a sluggish economy.
Vaccination rates have also been uneven.
While just over half of people are fully vaccinated in Latin America and the Caribbean, there are 19 countries where vaccination coverage is less than 40% of the population – a factor that PAHO estimates could lead to further increases.
PAHO warned on Wednesday that despite low vaccination rates and rising incidences, protective measures are being phased out or weakened in densely populated areas.
“It’s a disturbing combination that makes us vulnerable to the virus and jeopardizes our difficult achievements,” Etienne said.
Amanda Coletta of the Washington Post contributed to this report.