PAHO: Latin America must keep prevention measures

paho coronavirus
PAHO headquarters. Photo: Mark Van Scyoc/Shutterstock

With more than 11 million confirmed Covid-19 cases and 408,794 deaths, Latin America has been unable to successfully contain the coronavirus, in large part due to massive inequality and poor leadership. Being the global epicenter of the pandemic, the region is braced for a potential second wave that is already hitting Europe and North America. According to the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), countries of the region must continue prevention measures to avoid a new surge in deaths.

PAHO Manager for Health Surveillance and Disease Prevention and Control, Dr. Marcos Espinal, said that despite the imminent second regional outbreak, the curve can be kept flat if local governments continue to endorse the importance of safety protocols. 

Second wave not necessarily less lethal

Many politicians and business leaders in Latin America dismiss the possibility of a new deadly coronavirus wave — suggesting that the region is close to reaching a state of so-called “herd immunity.” Many also point to the fact that, in Europe, deaths have not increased at the same pace as infections.

But that could be flawed logic.

Take Peru as an example. The country topped the mark of 1,000 deaths per 1 million inhabitants, despite being one of the first to impose strict lockdowns. But a highly informal workforce and socioeconomic inequalities prevented such measures from fully working.

Another six Latin American countries have death rates above 700 per million, which international health organizations consider as high levels. Those numbers only support PAHO’s calls to reinforce the importance of safety protocols. 

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