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PAHO Director says new variants and acceleration of virus makes continuing public health measures urgent

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PAHO Director says new variants and acceleration of virus makes continuing public health measures urgent

Photo credit/Crédito: Gerardo Cárdenas ‘If we remain diligent, we have the power to control this virus; if we relax, make no mistake: 2021 could well be far worse than 2020’

Washington, D.C., January 13, 2021 (PAHO)— The appearance of new variants of the COVID-19 virus in several countries of the Americas, combined with an acceleration in the virus’s spread in virtually every country in the Americas, makes it urgent to continue public health measures such as social distancing, wearing masks, and washing hands often, Pan American Health Organization Director Carisa F. Etienne said today. Our collective ability to keep up with these measures has the power to determine the trajectory of this year. If we remain diligent, we have the power to control this virus; if we relax, make no mistake: 2021 could well be far worse than 2020.” Dr. Carissa F. Etienne

She said, “Since the start of this pandemic, over 39 million people across the Americas have become infected by COVID-19 and over 925,000 of them have succumbed to the virus. In the last week alone, 2.5 million people were infected with COVID-19 in our region – the highest weekly cases since the virus first reached our shores. “

PAHO’s genomics surveillance network of 21 laboratories has been tracking the spread of the virus and mutations, she highlighted, and the variant first seen circulating in the UK has now been reported in eight countries: Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, and the USA. In addition, Brazil and Canada have reported seeing another variant that was first reported in South Africa.

“At this time, there is no evidence to suggest […]

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