The American continent reported more than six million new cases of covid-19 That in October, as the director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Carissa Etienne, warned this Wednesday.
During a virtual press conference, Etienne indicated that last week 1.6 million people in the region contracted the disease and 22,000 died from the virus.
“We have seen a record of daily cases recorded in United States“, said the expert, noting that in the country, which with 13.7 million infected and more than 270,000 deaths is the hardest hit by the pandemic,” there are more than 96,000 people hospitalized, the highest figure since the beginning of the pandemic. ”
He also drew attention to “large outbreaks” in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as the cases spread among indigenous communities and remote areas of the country.
In Panama, according to the PAHO director, an increase in infections has been reported in the province of Guna-Yala, where indigenous communities are settled.
In Southamerica, Brazil It has been experiencing an increase in cases in several states, in contrast to Argentina, where since the beginning of November the number of infections has been decreasing.
Etienne, a woman of African descent born and raised in the Caribbean, warned that the pandemic has made it clear that, “this virus, like other health crises, disproportionately affects the most vulnerable “, especially black populations.
“Afro-descendants represent around a fifth of all people in America,” he said, noting that “they are the dominant racial group in most Caribbean countries,” they represent more than half of the Brazilian population and 13 % of the inhabitants in the USA, among others.
However, he noted that, in many places, “poverty, inadequate living conditions and limited access to health care puts them at higher risk for covid-19“.
At the same time, he pointed out that Afro-descendants “are on the front lines” of the fight against the pandemic, since they are workers who feed the sanitation systems, who drive public transport or take care of the elderly and the sick.
“In the United States, the CDC (Centers for Disease Prevention and Control) reports that a black person is 2.6 times more likely to contract the virus and twice as likely to die from covid-19 than their white counterparts“he added.
The expert mentioned that the situation is similar in Brazil, where mortality rates among blacks and mestizos are 1.5 times higher than among white citizens. ”
In Ecuador, Afro-descendant men suffer a mortality rate 50% higher than mestizo men, he added.
“We are taking this issue as a priority and we are incorporating it into our programs,” added the official, who also convened PAHO member states around an action agenda that includes better data, greater participation, and better access to services for Afro-descendant communities.
“The pandemic” -he concluded- “is a urgent call to action on racial inequalities, an opportunity for us to do better and fulfill our promise of health for all. ”
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