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PAHO Warns COVID-19 Transmission Far From Under Control in Americas

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Nearly 40% of all global deaths from COVID-19 reported last week happened in the Americas, and nearly 80% of the region’s intensive care units are filled with COVID-19 patients, the Pan American Health Organization said on Wednesday.

“This is a clear sign that transmission is far from being controlled in our region, even as countries like the United States and Brazil are reporting reductions in cases,” PAHO Director Carissa Etienne told a webcast news conference.

India’s B.1.617 predominant coronavirus variant has been detected in six countries of the Americas and PAHO is worried that it is highly transmissible, incident manager Sylvain Aldighieri said.

More than 140 million people have been fully vaccinated against COVID in the Americas, Etienne said.

The World Health Organization’s recent approval of China’s Sinopharm vaccine will offer fresh hope of expanding access to vaccines in Latin American countries, PAHO said.

“But until we have enough vaccines to protect everyone, our health systems and the patients that rely on them remain in danger,” Etienne warned.

Across the PAHO region, nearly 80% of our intensive care units are filled with COVID patients, and the numbers are even more dire in some places, it said.

The number of cases are falling in Brazil, but are surging in the areas of Guyana and Bolivia that border Brazil, the organization said. In Colombia, it expects even steeper rises in cases following a week of protests there.

Cuba continues to drive most new infections in the Caribbean, PAHO said, while Canada is seeing higher rates of infections in the east and across the northern territory, home to a majority indigenous population.

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