Following the recent volcanic eruptions in St. Vincent and evacuations that followed, shelters on the island have seen more than 137 cases of Covid-19, said Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa Etienne, at Wednesday’s media briefing.
“The recent volcanic eruptions in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have led to evacuations with thousands of people currently living in shelters. More than 137 Covid cases have been reported in shelters thus far and we expect more new infections in the coming weeks,” she said.
Etienne went on to explain the state of the pandemic elsewhere in the Caribbean, saying Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic continue to drive the most infections. Smaller island nations like Bermuda, Aruba and Curacao are reporting a rise in Covid-19- related deaths, she added.
Expanding further across the region, “Nearly every country in central America is reporting a rise in infections,” Etienne, said, highlighting where cases are increasing in South America.
“Cases are accelerating in Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia and Uruguay. Argentina has also seen a rapid growth of new infections and has assumed the third highest case count in our region.”
An exception is Chile, where after the strengthening of public health measures, there has been a plateau in cases, according to Etienne.
More than 1.5 million new Covid-19 cases and nearly 40,000 Covid-related deaths were recorded in the past week in the Americas, Etienne said. These figures include the United States and Canada, in addition to Central and South America.
“Over [the] weekend the world reached a tragic milestone — more than 3 million people have lost their lives to Covid. And nearly half of these deaths happened right here in the Americas,” she added.
Etienne also highlighted the inequity when it comes to access to vaccines and said the Latin America and Caribbean region has “the greatest need for vaccines” and that PAHO advocates the region be prioritized when it comes to vaccine distribution.
“We call on all countries that have more vaccines than they need, to donate them to countries that need them the most; particularly the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, in the Americas that have borne the brunt of the epidemic,” she said.