By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
FOR the past five consecutive weeks the Caribbean has experienced a rise in new COVID-19 infections, according to Pan American Health Organisation Director Dr Carissa Etienne yesterday.
This has equated to a 9.3 percent raise in cases and a 49 percent increase in deaths.
During a virtual press briefing yesterday, she warned: “COVID is again on the rise in the Americas”.
She went on to note: “New infections and fatalities of COVID-19 have been rising steadily over the past four weeks. Last week, our region reported more than 918,000 cases - a 27.2 percent increase compared with the previous week. Over 3,500 deaths were reported. COVID-19 hospitalisations increased in 18 countries, and admissions to Intensive Care Units rose in 13 countries and territories.”
She added that more than half of the infections were reported in North America where cases have been climbing for the past seven weeks. The surge is driven by new infections in the United States which recorded more than 605,000 cases, which is a 33 percent increase.
Central America saw the largest rise in cases with infections soaring by 80 percent.
“Across the Caribbean, COVID-19 cases have been increasing for five consecutive weeks with a raise of 9.3 percent in cases and a jump in deaths of 49 percent as compared with the previous week. Fourteen countries and territories in the Caribbean reported increases in hospitalisations,” Dr Etienne said.
This comes as health officials last week previously said the country is in another surge of COVID-19.
Asked what should be in place to deal with the case increases, Director of Health Emergencies Dr Ciro Ugarte noted the recommendation for continued surveillance.
He said: “We need to take into account and remember that the pandemic is not over yet and all individual collective precautions, including health and social measures, must be in place, but also they must be adopted to the level of transmission also to the new cases that are reported, the availability of health services and, of course, the vaccination coverage, particularly for the population at higher risk to develop severe disease or death.
“In that regard, we recommend continued active surveillance for early detection of new cases, particularly the community level.”
Asked what touristic countries like The Bahamas should do as the pandemic rages on, Dr Ugarte said:
“Each country must adopt corresponding measures to protect their own population and continue to reduce the national and international transmission of COVID-19. At the end it comes to the adoption of the most efficient measures that will continue to reduce transmission and social and economic impact of the pandemic.”
He added that actions for early detection must be implemented to ensure the protection of those who will come into contact with visitors.
“So it is important to establish that surveillance that we have already mentioned several times because in large epidemics when the virus is already present in the countries the most important feature is to early detect the cases that are community level and implement all the measures to reduce the transmission and control those surges,” he said.