COVID-19 is on the rise again as cases in the Americas surged 27.2% last week with more than half of a total 918,000 infections coming from North America as U.S. cases jumped by 33% to 605,000.
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Dr. Carissa Etienne noted on Wednesday (May 18) that many countries and local governments are giving up measures to protect against the virus and have reopened borders after a period of lower transmission.
“Masking and social distancing have served us well since the start of the pandemic and are still valid measures to lower virus transmission,” she said, adding that governments should be ready to scale up these measures whenever there is an increase in cases or deaths.
Too many people remain at risk, PAHO said, as only 14 of the 51 countries and territories in the Americas have reached the WHO’s goal of vaccinating 70% of their population, she added during a news conference.
PAHO said new COVID-19 infections and deaths in the region have been rising steadily over the past four weeks, with over 3,500 fatalities reported last week.
“It is time to take stock of these numbers and act. COVID is again on the rise in the Americas,” Etienne said. “The truth is this virus is not going away anytime soon.”