PAHO data shows COVID-19 cases continue to rise in North America, driven by the United States. Omicron variant has now been reported in 19 countries and territories.
Washington, D.C. Dec. 22, 2021 (PAHO) – The Region of the Americas has now surpassed 100 million cases of COVID-19, latest Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) epidemiological data show, with the United States driving a 36% increase in cases in North America in the past week and parts of Central and South America reporting declines.
South America is showing an overall case drop of 10.7% and a 6.3% decrease in deaths, PAHO’s epidemiologists noted. However, Bolivia reported a sharp increase in cases, while cases also rose in Argentina and Ecuador.
In Central America, countries continued to see a downward trend in cases, with a 10.8% drop.
In the Caribbean, the PAHO analysis showed cases increased by 16%. Trinidad and Tobago continues to report an increase in cases, and while Barbados and the Cayman Islands have reported large numbers of cases, these are now decreasing.
The Omicron variant has now been reported in 19 countries and territories of the Americas: Argentina, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States of America, where the Omicron variant is estimated to account for 73% of SARS-CoV-2 virus sequences in the past week.
PAHO continues to recommend vaccination and public health measures to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and halt the transmission of the virus. These include wearing masks, maintaining physical distance from others, frequent hand washing, and avoiding crowded spaces, especially indoors.
“These measures are effective against all variants, including Omicron,” PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne said recently. “Countries should sustain their public health measures to limit transmission of the virus and adjust them according to local transmission risks,” she added.
In terms of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, over 868 million doses have been administered in Latin America and the Caribbean. To date, about 57.3% of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean has completed their COVID-19 vaccination schedules.
PAHO projects that most countries in the region will have reached or surpassed the WHO target of vaccinating 40% of their eligible populations by the end of 2021. The current estimates are that Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Guatemala, Saint Lucia, and Grenada may not attain that 40% coverage goal.
So far, over 75 million doses of vaccines have been delivered to 33 countries in the Region through the Covax mechanism, including 22 million donated doses. PAHO’s Revolving Fund has handled the logistics for these deliveries and is working with countries to purchase vaccines directly from manufacturers.