Years of health gains at risk in Americas as Covid-19 tightens grip, official warns

North and Latin America remain under the “tight grip” of Covid-19, with the fallout from the pandemic threatening to undo years of development gains in a matter of months, the region’s top health expert has warned. 

Speaking at a virtual briefing on Tuesday, Dr Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said that the Americas has now reported more than 9.7 million cases and some 365,000 deaths – roughly half of the global total. 

She said that nearly every country in central America is “witnessing spikes in Covid-19 cases”, while south America is facing a “public health paradox” amid mounting pressure to reopen economies and schools, despite “clear signs” that rapid transmission is continuing. 

Dr Etienne added that the pandemic has also demonstrated that health systems have been chronically underfunded, with many in the region unable to access care.

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