Vaccination and continued public health measures crucial given spikes in Europe and approaching holiday season.
Washington D.C. 24 (PAHO). With Europe experiencing record-breaking spikes in COVID -19 cases and rising cases by 23% across the Americas, Carissa F. Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), warned that there is no room to be complacent in fighting the pandemic.
“End of the year celebrations are approaching, get vaccinated. Keep gatherings small, and ensure that masks and social distancing are enforced, especially indoors,” she said in a press briefing today.
Many European countries have seen record numbers of cases in the past few weeks despite having high levels of vaccination. Dr. Etienne stated that the perfect conditions for the virus’ spread have been created by the combination of a lack of vaccination and relaxation in public health measures.
” “Throughout this pandemic Europe has been an indicator of the future for Americas,” warned the PAHO Director. “The future is in our hands, and it must serve as a wake-up call for our region .”
Upward trends can already be seen across the Americas, especially in Canada and the United States. Almost all countries in South America are reporting an increase in incidences, even those in the Southern Cone. The Caribbean also has high rates of infection. Only Central America has seen a decline in new infections.
While nearly half of Latin America’s population is now fully protected against COVID in the Caribbean, 19 countries still have not reached the WHO goal of 40% coverage by the end 2021.. However, there are still preventative measures that can be taken, even in densely populated areas.
“Every time we lower the guard, the virus gains momentum,” said the PAHO Director. .”
Last year, there was a spike in cases in the Americas after the holiday season. This happened after months of decline. Dr. Etienne warns that the path to this pandemic
will be influenced by the summer vacations and holidays in the Southern Hemisphere. It is important that people get vaccinated immediately to prevent severe illness and hospitals becoming overwhelmed.
More than 1.3 billion doses of COVID -19 vaccinations have been given in the Americas. The PAHO is trying to increase access to those areas that are less able.
The Director of PAHO said that vaccination and continued public health measures are key to reducing spread. They include social distancing, mask wearing and avoiding large gatherings, especially indoors.
We’ve seen the effects of uncontrolled pandemics and we don’t want to face them again,” she said.
” It’s up for us all to make safe and smart choices this holiday season to protect ourselves and others from this virus .”
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