With infections reaching 4.8 million (a 31% drop from last week) but 33,000 new deaths, the PAHO Director Ms. Carissa F. Etienne said the region remains in the grip of the latest Covid-19 wave and urged countries to harness the lessons learned from the pandemic so far as clinics and hospitals once again become full.
Although transmission is still too high, infections and hospitalizations are beginning to dip in some countries, Ms. Etienne stressed, warning that Covid-19 deaths have risen by 13%, with highest incidence in parts of Central and South America.
When we look more closely, she added, one trend stands out: Nations with high rates of vaccination coverage are seeing fewer admissions and deaths in ICUs.
Such a reality -said Ms. Etienne- emphasizes the significance of expanding access to anti-Covid-19 vaccines, including booster doses, to save lives, she stressed.
The PAHO Director General added to her exposition the disadvantages of health personnel on the continent, even before the pandemic, which were only exacerbated by the new coronavirus, she said.
Years of underinvestment in our health services, aging information systems and poor labor conditions made our health workers´ jobs challenging, the Director noted, praising that these disadvantages were only exacerbated by Covid-19.
A PAHO study launched this week shows that over the course of the pandemic, doctors, nurses, and other frontline health workers saw more patients, worked longer hours, and suffered higher rates of COVID-19 infection.