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Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director, Dr. Carissa Etienne, says cases of severe coronavirus (COVID-19) in member countries have fallen.

Speaking during PAHO’s COVID -19 digital briefing on Wednesday (October 7), she said data indicate that “fewer [infected] people are being hospitalised and fewer require intensive care than before”.

Dr. Etienne said the reduction is due, in part, to regional countries’ “growing knowledge” of the virus and how to manage critically ill patients.

“It is also a credit to the work of governments across our region that acted quickly to expand laboratory networks, increase hospital beds, and hire and train healthcare workers,” she added.

Dr. Etienne said PAHO has been working with countries in their efforts to strengthen their health systems to effectively deal with the effects of the pandemic.

She pointed out that within recent months, the Organization has hosted more than 160 training programmes, delivered more than 17 million COVID-19 PCR tests and “millions” of gloves, gowns and masks to keep health workers safe.

“When hospitals are able to cope and manage patients, there are fewer deaths. These efforts have helped save thousands of lives and will continue to protect countless more,” the PAHO Director emphasised.

Against this background, Dr. Etienne thanked healthcare workers across the region and countries globally “for their dedication and commitment, especially as many of them have had to work under difficult conditions”.

The PAHO Director also used the opportunity to, once again, urge residents of member countries to adhere to COVID-19 safeguards and infection and prevention control measures, such as wearing masks, practising physical distancing, and hand washing and sanitising.

These, Dr. Etienne reiterated, are imperative in ensuring that persons protect themselves against contracting the virus and safeguard individuals with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, “for whom a COVID-19 diagnosis can be much more serious”.

As at October 6, the global number of confirmed COVID-19 cases was over 17 million, with deaths amounting to more than 574,000.

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