After reporting that during the last week new cases of COVID-19 increased by 23% in the regionWith 880,583 new infections and more than 15,000 deaths, the director of the Pan American Health Organization on Wednesday called on all people to make “smart decisions” during this upcoming holiday season.

“The smartest thing you can do now is to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as you can and when it is available in your country. Please do not hesitate to do so ”.

Carissa Etienne called on people who have not yet been vaccinated to take advantage of the next vacation period to do so and thus face that time and the coming months with better health and avoid being a cause of concern for their family and friends.

He recalled, however, that being vaccinated is not a reason to be complacent and give up other measures since there is no “magic formula” to stop COVID-19, so he asked people to get vaccinated, wear a mask in public places and maintain physical distances.

“Let’s be sure of this, the virus doesn’t take a vacation and you can’t afford it either. It is a very dangerous disease which has already killed more than five million people worldwide and infected more than 264 millionPlease don’t become a statistic by neglecting your precautions, ”he warned.

A patient making a blood donation at a hospital in Argentina during the COVID-19 pandemic.


A patient making a blood donation at a hospital in Argentina during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cases are increasing in the north and south of the continent; are shot in a department of Bolivia

Etienne indicated that during the past week most of the new coronavirus cases occurred in North America, where both the United States and Canada report high incidence rates.

Although new infections fell by 37% in Central America, he highlighted that, in the southern area of ​​the continent, with the exception of Brazil, Suriname and Venezuela, the incidence of the disease grew with strong increases in Ecuador and Paraguay, and warned of a 400% increase in cases in the Bolivian department of Santa Cruz.

Similarly, he reported that in the Colombian cities of Bogotá and Medellín they reported an increase in cases and hospitalizations, especially among younger people. They also increased in Chile and Argentina.

Patients with COVID-19 rest in chairs in the corridors of the Severo Ochoa hospital in Madrid.

Courtesy of Dr. Luis Díaz Izquierdo

Patients with COVID-19 rest in chairs in the corridors of the Severo Ochoa hospital in Madrid.

The increase in COVID-19 cases in Europe is a warning for the region

Etienne’s warnings about holiday periods are linked to the high levels of COVID-19 that Europe has been experiencing in recent weeks.

The head of PAHO recalled that the guidelines previously registered in the old continent later functioned as “a future warning” for the American continent.

We have seen again and again how the dynamics of infection in Europe are reflected here, several weeks later. And in recent weeks, many European countries have reported record numbers of new cases, “he explained.

He explained that relatively low vaccination coverage has led to an increase in cases in Eastern Europe, while in the western part, despite having significant vaccine coverage, “significant groups” of unimmunized people persist and have relaxed public health measures “creating the perfect environment for the spread of the virus.”

Syringes for COVID-19 vaccination in a production plant in Spain

© UNICEF / Francis Kokoroko

Syringes for COVID-19 vaccination in a production plant in Spain

Europe, the new epicenter of the pandemic

Indeed, the director general of the World Health Organization today warned at a press conference that during the last seven days more than 60% of all cases and deaths from COVID-19 reported in the world occurred, once again, in Europe.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed that this high number of patients translates into “unsustainable pressure” on health systems and the “exhaustion” of health personnel.

Tedros reiterated that vaccines serve to save lives but do not completely prevent transmission. He added that, before the arrival of the Delta variant, immunizations helped reduce the spread of the disease by 60%, but that with the arrival of the new variant the figure has decreased to about 40%.

“Although Europe is once again the epicenter of the pandemic, no country or region is out of danger,” he stressed.

Moldova was the first European country to receive COVID19 vaccines through COVAX.

UN Moldova

Moldova was the first European country to receive COVID19 vaccines through COVAX.

The European region could exceed two million deaths in March

Similarly, the European region of the World Health Organization estimated on Tuesday that the reported deaths of COVID-19 in that geographical area increased last week to about 4,200 a day, a record that doubles the 2,100 daily deaths recorded at the end of September.

The number of accumulated deaths from coronavirus in the 53 countries in that area has already exceeded the 1.5 million mark.

The coronavirus has now become the leading cause of death across Europe and Central Asia, according to numbers managed by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which develops hypothetical scenarios for the WHO Office in Europe.

The European branch of the UN health agency foresees a “high or extreme pressure” of bed occupancy in 25 countries, and a high or extreme load in intensive care units in 49 of the 53 countries between now and 1 January. March 2022.

Likewise, it foresees that, if current trends are followed, the total registered deaths will exceed 2.2 million in the spring of next year.

The three main factors that are driving the high transmission of COVID-19 are:

  • The high transmissibility of the Delta variant of the virus, with no country reporting more than 1% of any other variety.
  • Many countries notified their populations in recent months that COVID-19 no longer represents an emergency threat and have relaxed prevention measures such as the use of masks and physical distancing in crowded or confined spaces.
  • The high number of unimmunized people, together with the decrease in the protection provided by the vaccine against infection and mild pathologies.

New guide for the treatment of childhood multisystemic inflammatory syndrome

The World Health Organization also published a update your guidelines on the treatment of childhood multisystemic inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19, a condition that causes inflammation of various organs of the body such as the heart, lungs or kidneys, among others.

The new guidelines from the UN body recommend the use of corticosteroids in hospitalized children from newborn to 18 years with coronavirus, in addition to supportive care. The decision was made after the publication of three studies that grouped data from 885 patients in total.

The WHO first described this condition in May 2020 and offered a preliminary clinical definition. In general, children are at low risk of developing severe or critical COVID-19, but, like adults, certain underlying conditions, such as obesity, chronic lung or cardiovascular diseases, make them more susceptible to this pathology.

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