(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) is reporting declines in coronavirus (COVID-19) infections and deaths among a significant number of member countries.
PAHO’s Assistant Director, Dr Jarbas Barbosa da Silva Jr, said that the overall weekly infection count totalled 901,000 last week, representing a 19 per cent decline, compared to the out-turn for the previous week.
He noted, however, that while most parts of the region showed decreases, the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean Islands recorded a 56.6 per cent increase.
Additionally, he said, weekly COVID-19 deaths have been falling, with 15,523 new deaths reported, representing an 18.4 per cent decline.
“All parts of the region reported declines in deaths, ranging from a 6.9 per cent drop in the Caribbean to a 27.9 per cent decrease in Central America,” Dr Barbosa said.
He was speaking during PAHO’s weekly COVID-19 digital media briefing on Wednesday, March 16.
Barbosa said that although COVID-19 infections and deaths are declining in most member countries, there are still too many daily cases being reported, noting that this is “a clear indication that transmission is not yet under control”.
He pointed out that since the virus’ arrival in the Americas two years ago, some 149 million cases have been detected with 2.6 million deaths.
The PAHO Assistant Director said that while regional countries are largely reporting declines, cases are again rising in other parts of the world.
He indicated that cases have increased by 28.9 per cent in the Western Pacific Region by 12.3 per cent among African nations, and by almost two per cent in European countries.
Barbosa said this must serve as a “cautionary tale” for countries across the Americas that “this virus puts us all at risk, especially the unvaccinated.”
“That is why we must continue our efforts to close the equity gap and protect the most vulnerable with COVID-19 vaccines,” he underscored.
Barbosa noted that over the course of the pandemic, vaccines have been prioritised by key decision-makers and have been embraced by the public.
As a result, many countries and territories are on track to reach the 70 per cent World Health Organisation (WHO) coverage target by June 2022.
Barbosa advised that eight countries and territories have vaccinated more than 80 per cent of their population, adding that “others are not far behind and have been making steady progress”.
He informed, however, that 21 countries and territories have yet to vaccinate half of their population.
Further, even in places with high overall coverage, some of the most vulnerable citizens, such as the immunocompromised and the elderly, have not yet been protected, “leaving them and our health systems at risk”.
Consequently, Barbosa said the region still has “a lot of work ahead to improve our resilience to COVID-19” and reaffirmed PAHO’s commitment to assist in this regard.