Latin America passes 25 mn COVID-19 infections | Daily News

Latin America passes 25 mn COVID-19 infections

URUGUAY: Latin America and the Caribbean passed the 25 million mark Friday for recorded coronavirus cases as a surge in infections saw countries place restrictions on travel and movement while vaccine campaigns catch up.

An AFP tally showed the region reaching the grim milestone of 25,001,533 infections, putting it in third place after Europe with 44.2 million cases and the United States and Canada with over 31.5 million.

The death toll for Latin America and the Caribbean exceeded 788,000, according to AFP's count, second only to Europe which has lost some 936,000 people in the pandemic.

Brazil is at the epicenter of the region's latest epidemic wave, reporting a staggering 66,500 COVID-19 deaths in March alone, and more than 325,000 in total so far.

As hospitals and intensive care units fill up, governments have announced an array of restrictions to try and curb person-to-person transmission in the region of 34 countries and territories and some 600 million people.

Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac, which produces the Coronavac jab used in 20 countries including Brazil, Mexico and Uruguay, said Friday it would double its annual production capacity to two billion doses.

Pope urges vaccines for poor

Pope Francis urged Catholics to remain hopeful in his Easter Sunday address, calling vaccines an "essential tool" in ending the pandemic and urging their swift rollout to the world's poorest countries.

"Vaccines are an essential tool in this fight," he said, calling on the international community to overcome delays in distributing vaccines "especially in the poorest countries".

Francis, who has focused on the plight of vulnerable groups since becoming Pope in 2013, had already warned rich nations against vaccine hoarding in an address to the UN General Assembly in September.

US says vaccinated people can travel

Fully vaccinated people can start traveling again if they take precautions such as wearing a mask and observing social distancing, US health authorities said Friday.

Within the United States, vaccinated people will not have to quarantine or take a COVID-19 test after traveling, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

But international travellers headed to the United States should have a negative COVID-19 test before they get on the plane, be tested after arrival, and must quarantine if local authorities in the United States require it, te CDC said in a statement.

Vaccinated travellers can go abroad without getting a COVID-19 test before travel unless it is required by the international destination, the new guidelines say.

A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last recommended dose of vaccine, the CDC said. That means the second shot for vaccines that require two jabs.

Canada surpasses 1 mn COVID-19 cases

Canada crossed the threshold of one million coronavirus cases as the country faces a third wave of infections, forcing several provinces to tighten restrictions in recent days.

With 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 announced in British Columbia on Saturday evening, Canada topped one million cases since the start of the pandemic, according to figures reported by Canadian broadcasters. Just over 23,000 people have died.

Canada is grappling with a third wave of cases amid the rapid spread of variants, which are more contagious. Ontario, home to more than a third of Canada's cases, stepped up restrictions for at least four weeks.

To date, 14.6 percent of the population has received at least one vaccine dose, according to the COVID-19 Tracker Canada website. -AFP