PAHO: Covid19 still rising in the Americas

A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine, used to test covid19 samples.
A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine, used to test covid19 samples.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has said close to 50 per cent of the eligible population of Trinidad and Tobago is now vaccinated against covid19.

The figure given in Wednesday's Ministry of Health update was 48.7 per cent.

Dr Jarbas Barbosa, deputy director of PAHO, speaking at a virtual press conference on Wednesday, recognised TT is making great efforts to exceed the objective of vaccination of 40 per cent set for the end of 2021.

Barbosa said: "At this moment TT has close 50 per cent of the population with the two doses."

Regarding mandatory vaccination measures for public servants, Barbosa said PAHO recommends that each country should decide what strategies to implement to achieve it.

Barbosa said in the Caribbean there are many anti-vaxxers who are attacking the programme.

“It is important TT and all these countries receive the communication support from PAHO that they need to bring the relevant information to the community. The most effective measure is to offer clear and transparent information, especially to health personnel so that they can carry the message to the population,” he said.

Covid19 cases continue to accelerate in the Americas. Last week more than 7.2 million cases and almost 15,000 deaths were recorded.

In the Caribbean, Martinique, with an increase of more than 600 per cent, and St Maarten, with an increase of 130 per cent, are the countries with the most reported cases of covid19. In more than 17 countries and territories, the numbers have doubled and health care capacity is already being affected.

Dr Carissa Etienne, director of PAHO, said although omicron infections appear to be milder, caution should be exercised because the variant spreads more quickly.

“We must protect the health system from collapse, and getting vaccinated is the best way to avoid it. We aim to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of the population by mid-2022.”

Etienne stressed the need for distancing measures, the use of masks and antibacterials.

Barbosa said there are still ten countries that have not achieved the goal of 40 per cent vaccination and Haiti is the only country in the region that has not reached 20 per cent.

PAHO said as covid19 increases throughout the region, countries are facing challenges with testing.

“The demand for tests is now greater than ever. because many countries are facing an active flu season. Countries should take advantage of rapid tests that do not require training or expensive equipment and can be extended to community health centres,” said Etienne.

PAHO has acquired more than 42 million PCR and rapid diagnostic tests which have been distributed in 36 countries in the region.

Etienne said TT is among the countries that have benefited in recent weeks from the delivery of tests for covid19.

Dr Sylvain Aldighieri, director of incidents for covid19, asked medical staff to use the tests only when really necessary.

“During the beginning of the pandemic there was a great shortage of tests, but at this time the amount of supplies to maintain surveillance has increased. However, the excess of cases and the indiscriminate use of resources can cause a shortage of tests,” he said.


"PAHO: Covid19 still rising in the Americas"

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