Closing borders not guaranteed to keep out covid19

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In this file photo a Caribbean Airlines plane takes off.

Dr Ciro Ugarte, director of emergencies for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), said on Wednesday that opening or closing borders is not a guarantee covid19 will not enter a country.

Ugarte answered several questions during a virtual press conference about the measures put in place by various countries to curb the increase in cases .

On the closing of borders, he said: “The virus is already present internally and depends on the capacity for health care and internal control.”

He said there will continue to be high and low seasons of contagion.

PAHO director Dr Carissa Etienne said, “Although we are seeing some relief from the virus in countries of the Northern Hemisphere, for most American nations the end is still a distant future.”

PAHO reported 1.1 million infections and 30,000 deaths from covid19 during the last week.

In North America, cases continue to decline, but in Belize, Panama, Guatemala, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and St Kitts and Nevis, the numbers continue to rise.

Etienne was concerned about the start of the hurricane season.

She said: “This year’s hurricane season comes during worsening outbreaks in the Caribbean and Central America. We must be prepared. Countries must have protective equipment and emergency care, because the risks of contagion of covid19 and respiratory diseases increase.”

Etienne was also critical of the low number of people vaccinated in the region so far.

“It is an unacceptable situation: only one in ten people in Latin America has been fully vaccinated against covid19,” she said.

PAHO reported on Wednesday that it had delivered 31 million doses in 32 countries, but that is insufficient. Etienne said it hoped in the next few days to distribute 20 million vaccines donated by the US.

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