'Stay home': Experts warn new COVID surge to be worse than 2020
Authorities have also urged experts to increase surveillance to make sure people stay at home and not spread or contract the virus
As several countries experience a surge in coronavirus cases, the head of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has warned that the region could face a more severe spike in cases than last year.
PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said it is "no accident" that so many countries are observing a surge in coronavirus cases with the incoming summer vacation season in the Southern Hemisphere.
"Without preventive action, our region could face an upsurge even larger than the last one," Etienne said. "So, let me be as clear as possible. My main guidance for places experiencing surges in transmission can be summarised in two words: stay home."
PAHO, America's chapter of WHO, has reported that the region has been reporting more than a million cases on a daily basis.
"For the past four weeks, we have been reporting around 1 million new cases on average every 7 days. This indicates that transmission is still very active in far too many places in our Region," PAHO claimed in the media briefing.
"The number of deaths also remain high, with more than 34,000 deaths registered just last week (March 22 to 29). Brazil, Peru, Chile, and Paraguay have been reporting the highest rates."
Authorities have also urged experts to increase surveillance to make sure people stay at home and not spread or contract the virus.
"We urge our Member States to reinforce surveillance and act at the first sign that cases are rising. Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed. The risks for your people and health systems are too high."
PAHO also highlighted the challenge of procuring vaccine doses. "As we celebrate progress, we cannot close our eyes to the fact that vaccine supply continues to be our greatest challenge. A large part of this is due to delays in production as manufacturers rush to scale up capacity. But we are also seeing far too many examples of vaccine nationalism, which limits global availability even further."