The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said Wednesday that a 32% increase in COVID-19 cases had been reported in the Americas during the past week, which represented around 8 million new infections.
PAHO made these announcements during a weekly virtual news briefing in which some 18,000 new deaths were also reported, a 37% increase over the same time period.
According to PAHO Director Carissa Etienne, the United States continues to have the highest numbers of new infections in the region, despite a recent decrease in overall cases, while deaths were up 107% this week in Central America compared with last week.
In Mexico’s southern states, where also an increase in criminal violence has been reported, the number of new COVID-19 infections has tripled during the past week.
“As COVID cases are spreading more actively – and more quickly – than ever before, it’s clear that Omicron has become the predominant Ö strain in our region at the moment,” Etienne said.
Hospitalizations linked to Omicron have been on the rise in the region (read also https://en.mercopress.com/2022/01/26/covid-19-hospitalizations-pushing-brazil-s-health-system-to-its-limits ) causing staff shortages and even pushing some medical facilities to ration care.
Etienne also explained Belize was showing the highest rates of new infections in Central America, while the number of cases was rising in Honduras and Costa Rica.
The South American overview reflected that in Paraguay and parts of the Guianas COVID-19 cases doubled nearly every two days, with infections especially high in Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador.
On the Caribbean front, Haiti and Martinique – where vaccination rates are still low – were continuing to report significant case figures.
“Now more than ever, we need data about how this virus is affecting different ages, genders, groups, and geographies, so we can equip local municipalities and districts with the tools they need to manage risk and guide their populations during this time,” Etienne said.
In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said during the past week an average of 692,000 new cases have been detected daily, a decrease of 6% from the previous week. Hospitalizations nationwide are at 19,800 per day, an 8% decrease from a week ago, while deaths rose to an average of 2,200 per day, 21% more than the week beefore. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said hospitalizations had been cut down thanks to vaccines and to immunity from a previous infection, in addition to Omicron being less severe than prior strains.
Walensky also said there were more people than ever admitted into medical centers, with rates particularly high among unvaccinated adults. “Although it’s encouraging that Omicron appears to be causing less severe disease, it’s important to remember that we are still facing a high overall burden of disease,” Walensky said during a regular COVID-19 taskforce news briefing Wednesday.
(Source: Al Jazeera)