Washington, D.C., June 30, 2020 (PAHO)– The Director of the Pan American Health Organization, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, said countries planning to relax public health procedures need to take a phased approach based upon local conditions and be prepared to enforce preventive procedures again if the epidemiological situation modifications.
” The key is to believe both nationally and in your area and base choices on the current data. The more granular our understanding of where the infection strikes, the more targeted our response will be,” she told a media briefing today.
” As we are seeing, countries, states and cities that do not accept preventive steps or relax limitations prematurely can be flooded with brand-new cases,” Etienne stated.
Timing is critical. At nationwide or at regional level, we must open slowly, taking a phased approach that counts on robust security, information, and expanded testing and contact tracing capability. If the circumstance changes and infections rise, areas and countries need to adjust course quickly.”
Noting that 5.1 million cases and more than 247,000 deaths due to COVID-19 have been reported in the Americas through June 29, she stated, “To genuinely understand the effect of the virus, and to prepare more effectively for what follows, it’s important to look beyond regional and national information and focus on the regional level.”
” We typically become aware of the number of cases in large nations like Brazil, Mexico or the United States without the appreciation of their significant social and geographic diversity. In fact, multiple epidemiological curves exist side-by-side both within our region and within each nation, and public health reactions need to be tailored to these particular scenarios,” Etienne stated.
The PAHO director said resuming requires public health procedures to track new cases and develop sufficient capability to discover and manage brand-new break outs. “Transmission in your area need to be decreasing in a sustainable way, deaths need to be reducing, and medical facility bed tenancy rates must be low” prior to limitations are relaxed, Etienne added.
She noted public health steps local and national federal governments must take consisting of timely tests, seclusion of cases to decrease transmission, contact tracing to find contaminated persons and isolate them, access to Personal Protective Devices and training for health workers, and if necessary, take a trip measures to restrict new infections such as screening, case finding, quarantines and other measures.
” We require tests, however we also need test results to be reported rapidly to paint an accurate image,” Etienne stated. “Anyone with symptoms must have the guidance and assistance needed to decrease the chance of transferring to others,” she added.
Contact tracing, when anchored to a strong primary healthcare system, “can help reduce the threat of transmission among susceptible neighborhoods,” Etienne said, and the health system needs enough hospital beds and intensive care units to provide look after extreme cases.
PAHO is working closely with countries and, “in a lot of cases, city governments to examine these patterns to help guide their decision making, she said. “PAHO has actually supported countries in every element of the reaction, offering assistance, training, and supplies. Over the previous two months we have donated almost 5 million PCR tests to the region and acquired more than 10 million tests on behalf of our countries. We made 54 shipments of PPEs to 26 nations.”