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‘Covid-19 spreading in the Americas in new, different ways’

The coronavirus pandemic in the Americas was spreading in new and different ways, while the rate of transmission in the region was still very active, Carissa F. Etienne, Director of the Washington-based Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) said.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Etienne confirmed that over 17 million Covid-19 cases have been reported in the Americas, with more than 574,000 deaths.

The figures represented half of all cases worldwide and more than half of all the fatalities.

The US currently is the worst-hit country in the world with the highest number of cases and deaths at 7,547,929 and 211,753.

Brazil accounts for the world’s third highest number of cases at 5,000,694, and the second highest fatalities at 148,228.

“While Brazil and the US remain significant drivers of new cases in our region, we’re concerned by spikes in cases – including in places that had effectively managed outbreaks, like Cuba and Jamaica.

“In fact, over the past 60 days, 11 countries and territories in the Caribbean have moved from moderate to intense transmission, which is a concerning development as countries reopen airspace,” Etienne was quoted as saying in the statement.

According to the PAHO Director, the new ways in which the disease is spreading is among younger people who have mild or no symptoms and are unaware they are infected.

In the US, young people, especially those aged 20-29 years old, represent 20 per cent of new cases.

“While many young people won’t become ill or require an ICU bed, they are not immune to developing the serious effects of Covid-19,” she said.

“So I urge people of all ages to continue to wear masks, practice social distancing to protect themselves and avoid exposing others.” On a positive note, Etienne acknowledged that the rates of severe Covid-19 cases “have fallen across our region… due in part to our growing knowledge of this virus and how to manage critically ill patients”.