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12 May, 2021 17:57

Covid-19 ‘far from being controlled’ in the Americas as region accounted for 40% of global virus-related deaths last week – PAHO

Covid-19 ‘far from being controlled’ in the Americas as region accounted for 40% of global virus-related deaths last week – PAHO

Over 34,000 people succumbed to Covid-19 in the Americas last week – almost 40% of the global death toll, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has said, adding that demand for hospital beds in some places is “dire.”

More than 1.2 million new Covid-19 cases have been recorded in the region over the past seven days alone, the agency said, with hospitals in South American nations particularly feeling the strain.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, the PAHO said that, across the Americas, nearly 80% of hospital intensive care units (ICU) were currently filled. In Chile and Peru, this number stands at 95%, while, in some areas in Brazil, there are waiting lists for ICU beds.

“This is a clear sign that transmission is far from being controlled in our region, even as countries like the US and Brazil are reporting reductions in cases,” Carissa Etienne, the PAHO’s director, said.

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More than 140 million people in the region have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus so far, according to the UN health body. The population of the Americas is just under 965 million, and, “until we have enough vaccines to protect everyone, our health systems and the patients that rely on them remain in danger,” the agency said.

Within North America, the PAHO registered higher rates of infection in Canada over the past week than in the US, which remains the nation worst hit by the pandemic, with 33.5 million confirmed cases and more than 597,000 coronavirus-related deaths. The most dire situation in Canada last week was in the east of the country and the northern territory, where indigenous people comprise the majority of the population.

Cuba, which has seen over 118,100 confirmed cases and 755 deaths since the start of the pandemic, continues to lead in the number of new Covid-19 infections in the Caribbean, according to PAHO data.

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As for South America, cases were surging in Guyana and Bolivia, which border the world’s second-most affected country, Brazil. The PAHO also said it expected “steeper rises” in infections in Colombia after the recent mass protests there.

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