PAHO concerned about some Caribbean countries

PAHO director Dr Carissa Etienne -
PAHO director Dr Carissa Etienne -

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday the Caribbean continues to be a cause for concern owing to increases in cases of covid19 and the low percentage of vaccination in some countries.

Dr Carissa Etienne, director of PAHO, told a virtual press conference St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Barbados and Saint-Martin recorded the largest increases in cases during the last week.

Etienne said as countries open their borders, cases are increasing.

During the past week, the Americas reported more than 490,527 cases, a decrease of almost 2.3 per cent compared to the previous week, and 4,792 deaths, or 15 per cent less.

Meanwhile, in North America cases and hospitalisations increased more than 11 per cent owing to the omicron BA2 outbreaks.

Nicaragua, Colombia, Bolivia and Venezuela have greatly increased vaccination rates, but in the Caribbean, less than 30 per cent of their populations have met the quota.

"We have enough supplies of vaccines to meet the demands of the population, but this is only the first step, so we are talking to all countries to fill the gaps that still remain," she said.

Nevertheless, more than two-thirds of the population of the Americas have received two doses of the vaccines, one of the highest rates in the world.

"Thanks to the tireless commitment of health professionals, 14 countries have already exceeded 70 per cent of their populations," reported Etienne. "I urge countries to incorporate covid19 vaccines into the routine vaccination system to make it easier and more accessible for all families to catch up on all pending vaccinations."

This week PAHO distributed 15 million doses of the flu vaccine as part of the annual routine vaccination system.

Etienne said there is concern over some countries where covid19 deaths have become the leading cause of death in pregnant women.

“This can be preventable if we increase vaccination schedules. We can protect as many people as possible,” she said.

Dr Ciro Ugarte, PAHO's director of health emergencies, said a committee of experts from PAHO and from all the countries involved was evaluating decisions on relaxing anti-covid measures, even though the figures are falling in most of the territories.

"We remain alert, because there are still cases, there are still low percentages of vaccination in some countries and we must prevent new variants from emerging," he said.

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"PAHO concerned about some Caribbean countries"

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