Covid19 cases are on the rise in the Americas, where infections grew 27.2 per cent last week, driven by infections in the US, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) warned on Wednesday.
Of the 918,000 new cases reported in the region in the week ending May 14, more than 605,000 are in the US.
Dr Carissa Etienne, director of PAHO, told a virtual press conference the new infections reached a 27.2 per cent increase from the previous week, and more than 3,500 deaths.
Etienne also said hospitalisations increased in 18 countries.
In the Caribbean, cases have increased for five consecutive weeks. Etienne said there was a 9.3 per cent increase in new infections and a 49 per cent increase in deaths compared to the previous week.
“It is time to take stock of these figures and take action. This virus is not going away any time soon. Many countries are abandoning the measures of the use of masks and distances and are opening their borders,” she said.
PAHO figures show only 14 of the 51 countries and territories of the Americas have met the World Health Organization (WHO) goal of vaccinating 70 per cent of their populations.
“The increase in cases should serve as a wake-up call,” Etienne said. “Governments must continue to closely monitor covid19 trends, adapt their guidance to protect the most vulnerable, and always be ready to scale up social measures whenever there is a spike in cases or deaths.”
PAHO said the countries must trace the virus through a system that allows new cases to be detected. Etienne reported in recent months testing levels have fallen steadily.