BRASILIA (Reuters) -The coronavirus is increasing “dangerously” in Brazil, warned on Tuesday the regional director for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO), Carissa Etienne, urging all Brazilians to adopt preventive measures to stop the spread.
“Unfortunately, the terrible situation in Brazil is also affecting neighboring countries,” Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), said in a briefing.
COVID-19 cases have increased in the Bolívar and Amazonas states of Venezuela, and in the border regions of Peru and Bolivia, he said.
The variant of the virus first discovered in Brazil known as P1, which experts say is more contagious than the original strain of the coronavirus, has now been detected in 15 countries in the Americas and has become a major cause for concern, he said. PAHO Incident Manager Sylvain Aldighieri.
In the Southern Cone, COVID-19 cases continue to increase in Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, according to PAHO.
In Paraguay, most intensive care unit (ICU) beds are occupied and the health system is collapsing under pressure. Uruguay has reported more than 1,000 cases a day multiple times in recent weeks, an alarming number given the size of the country.
In Central America, cases have decreased in Panama, but the increase in hospitalizations in Guatemala is depleting ICU bed capacity.
The COVAX facility run by WHO and the Gavi coalition to provide equitable access to vaccines has delivered 2,161,800 doses to the region so far, including more than 1 million doses to Brazil last weekend.
PAHO expects that this week more than 100,000 doses of vaccines will be delivered to El Salvador, Belize and Suriname, and an additional 1.2 million doses have already been purchased.
“Vaccines are coming, but most of the people in our region are still several months away,” Etienne said.
According to a Reuters tally, Latin America and the Caribbean have recorded around 23.7 million coronavirus cases so far and 746,000 related deaths, nearly double the number for Asia and Africa combined.
Only Brazil has had more than 295,000 deaths from COVID-19 and more than 12 million cases of the virus.
Reporting by Anthony Boadle Edited by Bill Berkrot