COVID-19 Will "Escalate and Worsen" on the American Continent

COVID-19 Will "Escalate and Worsen" on the American Continent
Fecha de publicación: 
1 April 2020
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"In recent weeks the pandemic in the American continent has intensified and tends to escalate and worsen rather than improve, as it has in other regions of the world."

The situation due to the new coronavirus will "escalate and worsen" in the American continent until reaching the peak of contagion probably in "one or two months," the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) warned Tuesday.

"In recent weeks the pandemic in the American continent has intensified and tends to escalate and worsen rather than improve, as it has in other regions of the world," PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said in a virtual briefing on the evolution of COVID-19 in the region.

Organization data indicate that by March 30 the continent had reported 163,068 confirmed cases and 2,836 deaths, most of them registered in the United States, "a country that continues in the acceleration phase of the pandemic," followed by Brazil, Chile and Ecuador.

While in Italy onTuesday was reported that the country "peaked" on the contagion curve and in Spain is estimate that this phase is close, PAHO points out that, although it is difficult to predict, this point in the American continent can occur in "one or two months."

"This will depend on the specific circumstances of each country and the measures they have taken in terms of social distancing and case identification," Ciro Ugarte, Director of the PAHO Department of Health Emergencies said.

Ugarte said that despite the fact that some governments have set mid-April as the date for suspending or make social distancing more flexible, it is necessary to make a risk assessment in each country and to take into account how the disease is behaving in other regions.

"Countries like the United States and others in Latin America are extending that period and I think it is a measure they need to consider to reduce transmission," he stressed.

For her part, the Director of PAHO said that, although "such measures may seem drastic," they are the "only way to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed by too many sick people in a very short time."

She also called on countries that have not yet done so to implement them as soon as possible and warned that, according to the experience of COVID-19 outside of the continent, it seems "prudent to plan such measures for at least two or three months."

"Without solid evidence about effective treatments and without a vaccine available, social distancing and other aggressive preventive measures remain our best bet to prevent the most serious consequences of the pandemic," she warned.

The region is going to be able to "save lives, but only if we act now, what we do today will be decisive," she added, pointing out that the new coronavirus has put American health systems in the greatest test. This is why the organization is working with governments to strengthen their response capacity, especially in nations with limited resources.

Meanwhile, while much of the continent’s nations have implemented social distancing measures, including massive and mandatory quarantines, governments like the United States, Brazil, Mexico or Canada have shown resistance due to the economic effect that it could mean, putting at risk the lives of thousands of people.

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