COVID cases dropping in North, South America, health agency says

People wait to receive an AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine during a vaccination campaign for homeless people, in Rio de Janeiro's downtown, Brazil, May 27, 2021. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

People wait to receive an AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine during a vaccination campaign for homeless people, in Rio de Janeiro’s downtown, Brazil, May 27, 2021. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

BRASILIA, Oct 13 (Reuters) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday that COVID-19 cases are dropping overall in North America but remain high in the American Midwest, Alaska, and Canada’s Northwest Territories, where infection rates are 10 times the national average.

Infections are also dropping across South America, though cases are up in the greater Caracas area of Venezuela, and in parts of Chile’s southernmost regions.

In the Caribbean, Barbados is reporting the highest number of COVID cases and deaths since the pandemic started, with a five-fold increase in COVID infections over the last month, PAHO said.

The regional branch of the World Health Organization called for concerted action in the Americas to help every country reach the WHO’s vaccination coverage target of 40% of their population by the end of this year.

So far, only nine countries in the region have vaccinated 50% of their people, while six – Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Haiti, Guatemala and Nicaragua – have yet to reach 20% vaccination coverage, according to PAHO.

Without concerted action to increase the vaccination rate and public health measures, it is possible that COVID-19 could become endemic in the region, PAHO Director Carissa Etienne warned in a weekly briefing.

Third dose booster vaccination is recommended, especially for people who have received the Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm vaccines developed in China that studies have shown to provide less protection for young adults, PAHO assistant director Jarbas Barbosa said.

Booster vaccination should begin with those over the age of 80, followed by those over 60 years with prior medical conditions, and then young adults, he said. Using other vaccines is possible when the original doses are not available, he said.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Jan Harvey
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attends a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico October 7, 2021. Mexico's Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attends a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico October 7, 2021. Mexico’s Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

MEXICO CITY, Oct 13 (Reuters) – Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Wednesday said the World Health Organization (WHO) should certify COVID-19 vaccines in public use, amid fears some vaccinated Mexicans will not be able to enter the United States.

“The WHO must act correctly, without political or ideological tendencies, sticking to the science,” Lopez Obrador said at a regular news conference.

Lopez Obrador’s comments come after the United States said it would only allow people inoculated by WHO-approved vaccines to enter its borders.

Millions of people in Mexico have been vaccinated with Russian and Chinese shots that do not fulfill that criteria. The U.S. on Tuesday said it was reopening its land borders to fully vaccinated travelers.

Russia’s Sputnik V as well as China’s CanSino vaccines are yet to receive approval by the WHO.

Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez and Raul Cortes; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

Staff members in protective suits check proof of negative test results for travellers at an entrance to the Harbin West Railway Station following new local cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, China September 22, 2021. cnsphoto via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT.

Oct 14 (Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

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Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.