Tuesday 29 September, 2020

PAHO: Caribbean coping with COVID-19 but virus will linger

Image by Daniel Roberts from Pixabay

Image by Daniel Roberts from Pixabay

Recurring coronavirus outbreaks in the Americas which include the Caribbean region is a situation which many may have to get used to for the next two years.  

This is according to PAHO Director Dr Carissa Etienne as she addressed a PAHO media briefing on COVID-19 in the Americas.  

She states: “In the absence of effective treatments or a widely available vaccine we expect over the next two years in the region of the Americas, we will experience recurring COVID-19 outbreaks which may be interspersed with periods of limited transmission.  

We must be realistic about the future. All of us must adjust to a new way of life and redefine our sense of normal.” 

Dr Etienne says there are more than 4.5 million COVID-19 cases and 226,000 deaths reported in the Americas.  

She says the Caribbean is faring better but with hotspots on the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti as well as in the Guyanese shield.  

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PAHO had indicated last month that Latin America was becoming the epicentre of the pandemic and that has not changed.  

The PAHO Director says since then cases of COVID-19 in Latin America have tripled from almost 690,000 on May 23 to more than two million to date.  

She notes governments are under pressure to ease restrictions for economic and political reasons even while the transmission is increasing.  

Dr Etienne says in the face of a fast-changing pandemic, leadership will make or break the region’s response.  

She made it clear the region will not overcome this crisis without addressing the needs of the most vulnerable: “Those most likely to fall sick and least likely to receive care such as indigenous people, afro-descendants, urban poor and migrant populations.  

If we neglect them, we run the risk of the next two years looking like the past few months.” 

Dr Etienne says while PAHO rejoices when one country successfully flattens its COVID-19 epidemic curve, the risk of reemergence will always remain unless the curve is flattened regionally and globally.  

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