The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Wednesday reported the wave of COVID-19 infections in Latin America caused by the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 was beginning to decline.
Although still very high, new infections and hospitalizations are beginning to decline in some countries in the region. Cases are down 31% from last week, PAHO Director Dr Carissa Etienne said in her weekly press conference.
PAHO experts warned, however, that the Omicron variant deaths due to COVID-19 last week had increased by 13%, especially in Central and South America, while in Canada, Mexico, and the United States infections, hospitalizations and deaths were already on a downward trend.
The American continent is already on the downward slope of the global wave caused by omicron, PAHO's Sylvain Aldighieri said.
Regarding Central America, PAHO said deaths rose by 30%, but added that infections droped 70% in El Salvador and 30% in Belize and Panama.
In South America, infections are also slowing down in Peru and Argentina, although deaths continue to rise in Bolivia and Venezuela.
Dr. Etienne insisted the key was the level of vaccination, since countries with high immunization are seeing fewer serious cases and deaths.
She also stressed the pandemic was taking its toll on health care staff. When cases increase exponentially, as they have in recent weeks, the burden falls most heavily on the people who drive our health systems, said Dr. Etienne. For them, this wave of Omicron is not smooth at all, she remarked.
Last week, PAHO warned 54% of the population of countries with the lowest incomes have not received even the first dose of vaccine.