BRASILIA (Reuters) -COVID-19 continues to inflict a devastating toll on the Americas, with Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador and Paraguay among the countries with the world’s highest weekly death rates, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.
Cases have more than doubled in the United States over the past week, mainly among unvaccinated people, PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said in a briefing.
The more transmissible Delta variant of coronavirus has been detected in 20 of the 35 countries in the Americas already, she said.
Cuba is seeing higher COVID infection and death rates than at any other point in the pandemic there, she said, adding that more than 7,000 minors and nearly 400 pregnant women have tested positive there in the last week.
Over the last week there were over 1.26 million COVID-19 cases and nearly 29,000 deaths reported in the Americas.
Infection hotspots have been reported in Argentine provinces bordering Bolivia and Chile, and in Colombia’s Amazon region.
“As COVID continues to circulate, too many places have relaxed the public health and social measures that have proven effective against this virus,” Etienne said.
So far, only 16.6% of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as countries in the regions have yet to access the vaccines needed to keep their people safe, she said.
“The good news is that vaccines work against the variants, including Delta, in terms of preventing severe disease and death. The bad news is that we do not have yet enough vaccines to stop community transmission,” Etienne said.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Sandra Maler)