Coronavirus COVID 19

Caribbean seeing Covid deaths explosion

In just two months, Covid-19 cases in the Caribbean have increased by 230 per cent and Covid-19 deaths have jumped by 123 per cent, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has revealed.

According to PAHO, since its last epidemiological update on June 23, and up to August 22, Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean islands have reported more than 100,000 Covid-19 new cases, including 1,384 deaths.

Eighty per cent of new cases reported in the prior two months were from the Dominican Republic (59 per cent) and Puerto Rico (21 per cent), PAHO stated.

It went on to note that the Dominican Republic reported 64 per cent of the new deaths, followed by Puerto Rico (17 per cent) and Haiti (8 per cent).

“In addition to the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, French Guiana, and Haiti, the countries and territories of Aruba, Sint Maarten, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the U.S. Virgin Islands now also have community transmission,” PAHO said.

PAHO’s latest epidemiological report was published on August 26.

In a media release this week detailing highlights of the report, PAHO noted that although the region of the Americas (of which the Caribbean is a part) makes up 13 per cent of the global population, it accounted for 64 per cent of the new deaths reported globally over the prior two months.

New deaths in the region of the Americas surpassed 213,000, PAHO said.

The majority of the new deaths globally were reported by Brazil, with 19 per cent, the United States of America, with 16 per cent; India, comprising 13 per cent; and Mexico, making up 12 per cent, PAHO stated.

It said since the June 23 epidemiological report, the number of cases worldwide increased by 158 per cent, with some 14 million additional cases.

Deaths rose by 72 per cent, comprising 300,000 additional deaths.

“…while Covid-19 cases seem to have steadied in some countries and territories at the national level (example the United States and Canada), daily notification rates are now accelerating in other countries and territories, many of which are experiencing larger outbreaks for the first time since the onset of the pandemic in the Region (e.g. countries and territories in the Caribbean subregion),” the PAHO update noted.

In a media briefing this week, PAHO director Carissa F Etienne said this rising number of cases signalled an urgent need to implement public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 such as contact tracing, social distancing, sheltering in place and limits on public gatherings.

“We can’t stop all transmission, but if countries stay vigilant and expand testing and surveillance, they can better identify spikes in cases and act quickly to contain them before they spread out of control,” she said.

PAHO director: healthcare workers affected

Etienne also raised concerns that to date, the region of the Americas has the highest number of healthcare workers infected in the world.

“While our health workers, nurses, doctors and other professionals are just a tiny fraction of our population, they are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. Our data shows that nearly 570,000 health workers across our region have fallen ill and more than 2,500 have succumbed to the virus,” she said.

As to why so many health workers were becoming infected, she explained:

“As countries scrambled to respond to the virus, many health workers were redirected to the outbreak response without sufficient training to protect themselves as they were treating COVID 19 patients.”

“With a surge in staff and patients, hospitals became overcrowded and many were too slow to implement triaging protocols. This meant that COVID 19 patients were exposed to others who may have been seeking care for different conditions, and soon everyone carried a risk of infection, leaving health workers more vulnerable.”

Etienne said to meet immediate needs, countries must ensure that health workers can do their jobs safely.

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