Dr Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), said on Wednesday Trinidad and Tobago is one of the countries of concern in the region owing to the increase in cases of covid19.
Speaking at PAHO's weekly webinar, Etienne said: "In the Caribbean, TT continues to experience spikes in covid19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths, as does the Cayman Islands."
Last week PAHO reported more than 782,655 new infections and 10,950 deaths related to covid19.
Etienne said the omicron variant has already been detected in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, the US, Mexico and Canada.
“It is a matter of time before omicron reaches the rest of the countries in the region, and we must be self-vigilant in the short term. Assessments are under way and it is important countries continue to implement the public health packages that have been shown to be effective against this virus,” she said.
Etienne said vaccines also remain a critical tool for reducing hospitalisations and deaths, as well as limiting the emergence of new variants.
PAHO reported as of Wednesday 55 per cent of people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated. However, 20 countries in the region have not yet reached the 40 per cent target set for this year.
Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines continue to lag behind and will not meet the target in the coming weeks.
Etienne said this week PAHO is delivering more than 1.6 million covid19 vaccines to various countries for a total of 72 million doses delivered in the region, while also distributing 34 million seasonal flu vaccines to 33 countries.
"We have secured more than US$ 1 billion in vaccines through the revolving fund, as well as orders for the coming year as countries continue to request additional doses," Etienne said.
She said in all the countries of the Americas there is still community spread and a relaxation of measures which has prevented progress towards the goal of ending covid19.
Dr Jarbas Barbosa, deputy director of PAHO, said Chile and Uruguay already have more than 80 per cent of their populations vaccinated and Brazil has made progress in recent weeks.
However, Barbosa said populations should not be neglected and that there are still many people who are in need of the third booster dose.
"There is still a lot to do, You must be very careful so that the transmission is fully controlled," he said.