BRASILIA, Jan 26 (Reuters) – New cases of COVID-19 in the Americas in the past week have been the highest since the pandemic began in 2020 and the very contagious Omicron variant has clearly become the predominant strain, the Pan American Health Organization said on Wednesday.
There were more than 8 million new cases, 32% higher than the previous week, while fatalities throughout the region also increased by 37%, with 18,000 new deaths caused by COVID-19.
The United States continues to have the highest number of new infections, although cases decreased by nearly 1 million over the last week, the regional health agency said.
Mexico’s southern states have seen new infections triple and Brazil has seen new cases surge 193% over the last seven days, PAHO said in weekly briefing.
Children in the Americas are facing the worst educational crisis ever seen in the region, with millions of children yet to return to classes, according to PAHO, which recommended that countries try to get them safely back to school to protect their social, mental and physical wellbeing.
It urged parents to get their children vaccinated.
Many countries have already authorized and are safely administering COVID vaccines to adolescents, PAHO said.
Last week, the WHO’s expert group on immunization authorized the COVID vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) for children aged 5 to 12 years, offering a roadmap for countries to roll out vaccines for them, the regional agency said.