Wednesday 15 July, 2020

PAHO Director: Region should prepare for a surge in COVID-19 cases

The rate and magnitude of COVID-19 transmission came as a surprise to PAHO.

The admission made by Director of the Pan American Health Organisation and World Health Organisation Regional Director for the Americas, Dr Carissa Etienne.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, she said the Caribbean should prepare for a surge in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks.

She said in November 2019 the organisation thought it prudent to review pandemic planning and called up emergency personnel to work with each member state to revise their plans.

Dr Etienne said: “This pandemic has really surpassed all the others we have had in terms of its magnitude. I was also surprised by our inability to provide the resources in terms of personal protective equipment, masks and tests. And the almost market failure concerning those required resources.”

She said the region has not yet been hit with the full force of COVID-19, but PAHO expects that to change in the coming weeks.

“The rise in hospitalisations and deaths we see in countries highlights how quickly the situation could change. We must act with urgency before the storm hits most of our countries, to protect ourselves, families and communities.”

Dr Etienne said the cost of inaction at this time could not be greater and immediate action is needed to address structured and long-term needs.

She believes that social distancing is critical to countries reducing transmission and slowing the spread of the virus.

The PAHO Director said there is no one size fits all approach to treating with COVID-19.

She believes that it's only by implementing the interventions required for each setting, guided by science and solidarity, can we slow down and ultimately break the spread of COVID-19 in our region. 

Dr Etienne said as the pandemic proceeds, millions will be economically impacted. She urged the private sector to partner with governments in the fight against the virus, saying its only through unified efforts we can win the fight against COVID-19.

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