No Aislinn Laing
SANTIAGO, April 21 (Reuters) – Brazil is seeing a fall in COVID-19 outbreaks including in the hard-hit Amazon region (NASDAQ 🙂 but a relaxation of measures by some municipal governments could lead to a reversal of that improvement, the Pan American Health. Institute Director (PAHO) Carissa Etienne warned on Wednesday.
Etienne said cases in the South American giant, however, remain “alarmingly high” while cases in Chile, which have had “a difficult few months,” are a plateau.
Nearly every Central American country is reporting an increase in infections, with Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic being the worst hit and 137 COVID-19 cases reported in shelters for displaced people by the volcanic eruptions in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
In South America, he says, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Uruguay and Argentina are the worst affected nations at the moment, while Mexico has seen a slight increase in cases following the Easter holiday and relaxation of some measures.
Etienne said PAHO was concerned about the rise of “stealth rumors and conspiracy theories” in the region that jeopardized the vaccine’s escalation.
“PAHO is collaborating with technology companies like Twitter, Google (NASDAQ :), and Facebook (NASDAQ 🙂 to tackle fake news and make sure the public can easily find accurate information,” he said .
He reiterated a call for fairer distribution of vaccines, urging countries with surpluses to give to others who need them most.
“Latin America is currently the region most in need of vaccines, this region should be prioritized for vaccine distribution,” he said. “This is a global epidemic. No one will be safe until we are all safe.”
Dr Ciro Ugarte, PAHO’s Director of Health Emergencies, said that because of a shortage of vaccine in the region, vaccine passports should not be considered as a mechanism to restrict travel, as it would complicate discrimination against those countries.
He said that PAHO had seen evidence that Venezuela’s second payment for access to vaccines through the COVAX initiative was in the process, and hoped it could be completed “as soon as possible” for drug delivery to 20% of the population, or 5.7 million people, to continue.
Etienne said so far COVAX has supplied more than 4.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to 29 countries in the Americas, with 90,000 more due to arrive in Bolivia today.