America will reach peak of COVID-19 infections in one or 2 months, PAHO alerts



The coronavirus situation will "escalate and worsen" in America until it reaches the peak of contagion, probably in "one or two months", but the continent still has an opportunity to mitigate the impact of this "serious" pandemic, it warned on Tuesday the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

"In recent weeks the pandemic in America has intensified and tends to escalate and worsen, rather than improve, as it has happened in other regions of the world," PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne said in a session today. virtual newsletter on the evolution of COVID-19 in the region.

Agency data indicate that by March 30, the continent had reported 163,068 confirmed cases and 2,836 deaths.

The majority of infections (86%) and deaths (85%) were registered in the United States (174,467 cases and 3,416 deaths) "which continues in the acceleration phase of the pandemic", followed by Brazil, which today reported more than 4,600 infected , Chile (about 2,700) and Ecuador (more than 2,200).

SOME COUNTRIES ARE REACHING THE LIMIT

While in Italy today it was reported that that country reached "the peak" in the contagion curve and in Spain they estimate that this phase is near, PAHO points out that, although it is difficult to predict, that point in America may occur in "one or two months. "

"This will depend on the specific circumstances of each country and the measures they have taken in terms of social distancing and identification of cases," said Ciro Ugarte, director of PAHO's Department of Health Emergencies.

"Some are already starting to show that the control of the disease is reaching its limit, however, we still see that the plateau may extend further and in preliminary estimates we are talking about a month or two months," he added.

EXTEND SOCIAL DISTANCE

Ugarte indicated that, despite the fact that some governments have set a date to suspend or make social distancing for mid-April, it is necessary to make a risk assessment in each country and take into account how the disease is behaving in other regions.

"In countries like the United States and others in Latin America they are extending that period and I think it is a measure that they have to consider to reduce transmission," he stressed.

Although many of the nations of the continent have applied measures of social distancing, including massive and mandatory quarantines, governments such as the United States, Brazil, Mexico or Canada have shown resistance due to their economic effect.

The director of PAHO said today that, although "such measures may seem drastic," they are the "only way to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed by too many sick people in a very short time."

At the same time, he called on countries that have not done so to implement them as soon as possible and warned that, based on experience outside of America, it seems "prudent to plan such measures for at least two or three months."

"Without solid evidence about effective treatments and without a vaccine available, social distancing and other aggressive preventive measures remain our best bet to prevent the most serious consequences of the pandemic," he warned.

IMMEDIATE MEASURES TO SAVE LIVES

The figures show that the region has entered a new phase, with several countries with community transmission, warned the head of PAHO, who noted, however, that America still has "a window of time to act and reduce the speed of spread of the virus. "

That is why he called on countries to take urgent measures to prepare hospitals and health centers for what is to come: "an influx of patients with COVID-19 who will need hospital space, beds, health professionals and medical equipment."

The region will be able to "save lives, but only if we act now, what we do today will be decisive," he added, indicating that the coronavirus has put the American health systems before the greatest test "and that is why the organism is working with Governments to strengthen their response capacity, especially in nations with limited resources.

The global total of cases stands today at 693,224 and deaths exceed 33,000, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

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