WHO predicts more widespread coronavirus cases in Central & South America

—says virus has not peaked yet

—countries deprived of oxygen concentrators as demands outweigh supply

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday reported that the situation in the Americas (Central, South and Latin America) has not yet witnessed its peak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and is expected to see more widespread cases in coming weeks.

Currently, the Americas account for half of the coronavirus cases globally (4,507,006 out of 9,129,146 cases) with Brazil having more than one million cases.

WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director of Health Emergencies Programme.

“The epidemic in general in the Americas is still intense. It is particularly still intense in Central and South America […]and we’ve seen a steady and worrying continuation of the trend, with many countries experiencing between twenty-five and fifty percent rise in cases over the last week,” Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director of Health Emergencies Programme of WHO said.

Dr. Ryan described the situation in the Americas as “still evolving” since it has not yet reached its peak and is likely to result in a sustained number of cases and continued deaths in the coming weeks.

It was noted that countries in this region are not reaching a low transmission level that would allow for a sustainable exit from lockdowns. As such governments were called on to have an “all-government approach” and clear communication with their citizens on measures taken for self-protection and community response.

The need for sustained investment in public health infrastructures and the capacity to trace and isolate suspected cases and the capacity to quarantine their contacts, to avoid or slow the manifestation of the predictions was also emphasised by Dr. Ryan.

“It is very difficult to take the sting out of this pandemic or this epidemic in a country unless you can successfully isolate cases and quarantine contacts. In the absence of a capacity to do that, the spectre of further lockdowns cannot be excluded,” he stated.

As the situation worsens, the global need for oxygen ventilators and concentrators for critically ill patients continues to rise.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO reported that the need for oxygen concentrators for critically-ill COVID-19 patients is at an all-time high. Patients with severe COVID-19 cannot get enough oxygen into the blood by breathing normally and need higher concentrations of oxygen and support to get it to their lungs. If left untreated severe COVID-19 can lead to organ failure and result in death.

With WHO’s figures reflecting a current rate of one million new cases a week, the world needs about 620,000 cubic metres of oxygen a day or about 88,000 large cylinders.

Eighty percent (80%) of the world is owned by a few companies given the fact that demand currently outweighs supplies several countries are not able to get the much-needed supplies.

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