PAHO monitoring monkeypox, polio as well as covid19

Mary Lou Valdez

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Mary Lou Valdez Photo source:

For the first time in five weeks, new cases and deaths from covid19 decreased in the Americas.

Mary Lou Valdez, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), said in a webinar on Wednesday that during the previous week, countries reported 1.6 million infections.

“Several countries continue to report increases in cases. Canada, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru continue to see more hospitalisations for covid19,” she said.

TT is one of the countries that has reported the most hospitalisations and admissions to intensive care units in the Caribbean, along with Cuba, Guadeloupe and French Guiana.

Valdez said the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of omicron have become the predominant strains in the region.

She stressed there is a difference between Europe and America, and it is in vaccination.

Valdez said in Europe most countries have made progress in vaccinating their populations, while in America the figures remain low: ten countries have not vaccinated 40 per cent of their population.

She said that PAHO, in addition to covid19, is also monitoring other viruses at the same time.

Valdez said in the last week, 5,300 cases of monkeypox were reported in 18 countries in the Americas. To date no deaths have been reported.

“Most cases are among men who have had sex with men between the ages of 25 and 45,” she reported.

But, she warned, “Regardless of sexual orientation, anyone can get monkeypox.

"There needs to be clear communication for health workers to manage cases and prevent new infections.”

Valdez said PAHO has been in contact with the LGTBIQ+ community to expand health measures and general recommendations.

She also said there had been a case of type two polio in the US.

“In recent years, polio vaccination rates have dropped considerably and this is worrying, because the region remains vulnerable to different infections,” she said.

Dr Andrea Vicari, PAHO's director of infectious threat management, said there is still little evidence on treatments for monkeypox, but until now, vaccines and some anti-flu drugs are the main methods of fighting the disease.

Vicari said vaccination can be an important tool, but will not be the only thing needed to deal with monkeypox outbreaks.

"There is no recommendation for mass vaccination, because the risks remain low," he said.

Dr Marcos Espinal, interim assistant director, said PAHO is in advanced discussions with several producers.


"PAHO monitoring monkeypox, polio as well as covid19"

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