BELIZE CITY. Wed. Jan. 19, 2022– There continues to be a rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the Americas. In the week leading up to Wednesday, January 19, 7.2 million new cases and 15,000 COVID-related deaths were recorded in the region.
“Although Omicron infections appeared to be milder, we continue to urge caution, because the virus is spreading more actively than ever before. That means it is critical to protect our health system so individuals who need care can count on it, and the best way to protect our healthcare system is to get vaccinated,” commented Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa Etienne, on the surge of Covid-19 cases, driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant, within the Americas.
More than 60% of persons residing in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated, and PAHO’s goal is to vaccinate at least 70% of the population of those regions by mid-2022.
PAHO’s Revolving Fund is nearing a milestone of delivering 100 million doses of vaccines to 33 countries.
Dr. Etienne is encouraging those who have not received the vaccine to do so.
Due to the acceleration in the transmission of the virus, many countries are also facing challenges in ensuring they are able to carry out adequate Covid-19 testing.
In regard to those challenges, Dr. Etienne said, “Even before COVID arrived in our region two years ago, PAHO has been working to boost our region’s laboratory capacity to respond to the emerging pathogen. Today, we have a network of 32 laboratories across the Americas, including national influenza centers and public health laboratories in at least 29 countries.”
These laboratories will assist countries in monitoring how the COVID-19 virus is evolving and will enable them to be on the lookout for new or evolving viruses. By means of the assistance provided through those laboratories, the Omicron virus was detected in Guatemala, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic.