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BRASILIA, Nov. 24 (Reuters) – New COVID-19 cases are up 23% in the past week in the Americas, primarily in North America, where both the United States and Canada report increasing infection rates, the Pan said. The American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday, warning that the region, like Europe, could face a slump.
Canada’s Yukon and Northwestern territories saw a two- to threefold increase in new infections in the past week, it said.
In Central America, on the other hand, the number of new infections has fallen by 37%. In South America, almost every country except Brazil, Suriname and Venezuela is reporting an increasing incidence of COVID-19. The biggest jumps were in Ecuador and Paraguay, PAHO said.
Cases rose 400% in Bolivia’s Santa Cruz department after recent strikes and protests prevented people from accessing vaccination and testing sites for COVID-19, the health agency said.
“Although cases have dropped significantly in recent months, COVID transmission is still active in our region, so every time we lower our vigilance, the virus gains momentum,” said PAHO Director Carissa Etienne.
Etienne warned that Europe’s experience, where many countries have reported record numbers of new cases in recent weeks, could be a window into the future for America.
While 51% of people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, there are 19 countries where vaccination rates are below 40% of the population.
PAHO said spikes in cases are mainly in densely populated areas where preventive measures have been lifted or relaxed.
With the holidays and summer holidays approaching in the southern hemisphere, Etienne urged people to continue to use masks and maintain social distancing.
“Our region witnessed a big jump in new cases after last year’s holiday season and it took countries months to reduce the number of new cases,” she said.
Reporting by Anthony Boadle Editing by Bill Berkrot
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