Hospitals across Latin America are fighting a new collapse due to surging COVID-19 infections. As the virus plagues the continent, this week, one in every four deaths in the world was registered in South America. Put as a total, during the last week, 1.4 million new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the region, and 36,000 persons lost their lives to the disease. “Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay are in new transmission peaks, with a dramatic increase in infections, and their health services are saturated,” stated Ciro Ugarte, director of Sanitary Emergencies of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). “In Colombia, infections could soon reach the record levels of January, and ICUs and hospitals are reaching their limit in Bogotá and Medellín,” added the expert.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that global cases, since the start of the pandemic, have exceeded 150 million and a death toll of 3.1 million. Despite encouraging decelerations in daily infections in Europe and North America, these continue to be the areas most affected by the pandemic. The Americas have reported more than 61 million cases, while in Europe the number of infections has reached 51 million.

Narrowing down the numbers further, Latin America has 28.5 million cases and 910,000 confirmed deaths. According to the Johns Hopkins’ coronavirus tally, the United States remains the worst affected country in the world (32.2 million cases and more than 575,000 deaths), followed by India with 18.7 million cases and 208,000 deaths, and Brazil, the most affected nation in South America with 14.6 million cases and 403,000 deaths. On Friday, in an act to commemorate the 400,000 victims of the pandemic, the Rio de Janeiro-based NGO Rio de Paz placed 400 blue body bags along the Copacabana beach (photo).

April also ends as the worst month of COVID-19 in Colombia with 10,000 deaths. “Latin America and the Caribbean urgently need more vaccines through mechanisms such as Covax and donations,” warned Ugarte. According to the health authority, hospitalizations are increasing among younger patients, who currently have less access to vaccines and are more exposed to infection. According to data released by WHO, 350 million doses of vaccines have been administered so far in America, but 71% (243 million) in the United States. The COVAX mechanism has delivered 7 million doses to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, with Colombia the first nation to receive a shipment on March 1 of 117,000 Pfizer/BioNTech doses. Colombia reached a bilateral agreement with WHO in October 2020 to acquire 20 million doses to inoculate 10 million persons of 36.2 million included in the National Vaccination Plan.