(Reuters) – Covid-19 cases rose 23 percent in the Americas last week, particularly in the northern portion of the continent, and nearly all South American countries except Brazil, Suriname and Venezuela are reporting a rising incidence of infections , said the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on Wednesday.
PAHO also warned that North America could be facing a relapse like Europe, with the United States and Canada reporting rising rates of new cases.
In contrast, in Central America there was a 37% reduction in new infections.
“Although cases have decreased significantly in recent months, Covid transmission is still active in our region, so every time we let our guard down, the virus gains momentum,” said PAHO Director General Carissa Etienne.
She warned that the experience in Europe, where many countries have reported record numbers of new cases in recent weeks, could be a reflection of the future in the Americas.
Although 51% of people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, there are 19 countries where vaccination coverage is below 40% of their population.
PAHO said case discharges occur mainly in densely populated areas where virus prevention measures have been suspended or relaxed.
As the holiday season and summer holidays approached in the Southern Hemisphere, Etienne encouraged people to continue wearing masks and maintaining social distance.
“Our region witnessed a huge leap in new cases after last year’s holiday season and it took months for countries to reduce the incidence of new cases,” she said.