Regional health officials alarmed by rise of Covid-19 in LatAm

Washington, Apr 28 (efe-epa).- The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) expressed concern Tuesday about a rise in Covid-19 infections in Latin America as the total number of cases in the Western Hemisphere topped 1 million, up more than 250,000 from a week ago.

“There has been a worrisome increase in Latin America,” PAHO’s director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, said in an online briefing.

Confirmed cases in the Americas are approaching 1.2 million and the death toll stands at 66,608 deaths. The United States, which has become the center of the global pandemic, accounts for the lion’s share of cases – 1 million – and for all but fewer than 10,000 of the fatalities in the hemisphere.

Most of the 250,000-plus new cases identified over the last seven days were in the US, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador and Mexico.

The novel coronavirus is present in every nation and territory within PAHO’s area of responsibility, Etienne said.

As testing expands, she said, PAHO is seeing increasing confirmation of health experts’ fear that the statistics provided by governments have been understating the impact of Covid-19 in the region.

Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, PAHO’s deputy director, said that Latin America is now at the stage where Europe was six weeks ago, with steadily rising numbers of infections.

That trend is expected to continue in the coming weeks, Barbosa said, cautioning Latin American government against “lowering their guard” and urging them to do whatever they can to shore up their respective national health systems.

He added that while doctors have no evidence the ambient temperature plays an important role in contagion, the imminent onset of winter in the Southern Hemisphere could spark an increase in the pace of infection in the temperate zones.

“During the winter period, when there is stronger transmission of respiratory viruses, there could also be an acceleration of the transmission of Covid-19, Barbosa said.

Worldwide, the number of coronavirus cases has reached 3.06 million. The disease has claimed 213,000 lives. EFE ggb/dr

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