They evaluate measures before the rebound of Covid-19 by Omicron variant

Caracas.- This Wednesday the Presidential Commission for the Prevention of Covid-19 evaluates biosecurity measures, given the uptick in infections.

The meeting was led by the Vice President of the Republic, Delcy Rodríguez, according to what was reported by the official Venezolana de Televisión (VTV) channel.

Recently, Rodríguez announced the figure of 2,090 cases in the last 24 hours, which means the highest peak registered in the country since the first case was detected in 2020. In addition, he pointed out that the incidence was 34%.

The President of the Republic, Nicolás Maduro, reiterated during his annual message on January 15 that the 7+7 plan will be implemented if necessary.

To date, Venezuela has recorded 458,731 positive cases, of which 439,641 have been recovered and 5,387 are deaths.

PAHO calls for more tests

Amid the unprecedented spread of Covid-19 in the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) called on Wednesday to take advantage of rapid antigen tests for symptomatic people.

“We urge countries to expand testing at the community level to relieve pressure on hospitals, which are working overtime,” PAHO Director Carissa Etienne told a news conference, AFP added.

“As we face a shortage of tests, PAHO recommends that countries prioritize rapid antigen tests for people who are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 and are at risk of spreading the virus,” he added.

Etienne said that rapid antigen tests give results in minutes, not days, do not require specialized training or expensive equipment, and can be implemented in primary health centers close to people’s homes.

“It is critical that countries use testing wisely,” he stressed.

Since the pandemic was declared in March 2020, the molecular biology test using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) has been adopted as the reference diagnostic method, which is very precise but requires laboratory analysis.

Later, the World Health Organization (WHO) approved “affordable and reliable” rapid antigen tests to detect covid-19.

Peak in the Caribbean
PAHO said that in the last week alone, the Americas reported almost 7.2 million new cases of Covid-19 and more than 15,000 deaths related to the disease.

“We are still in the midst of the pandemic,” Etienne emphasized, noting new peaks in infections, not only of the delta variant, but of the new omicron strain, more contagious and on the way to unseating it as the most dominant.

The United States and Canada continue to see a surge in coronavirus hospitalizations, while Panama, Costa Rica and Honduras are reporting the highest number of new infections in Central America, with more than doubling the number of cases in the past week.

The Caribbean is experiencing the steepest rise in Covid-19 infections since the start of the pandemic two years ago. PAHO said that infections in Martinique increased more than 600% and in Saint Martin, more than 135%.

Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia have also seen an increase in cases, while hospitalizations are growing in Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina.

“More actively than ever”
“Although omicron infections appear to be milder, we continue to urge caution because the virus is spreading more actively than ever,” Etienne said, warning that it can be serious and fatal in people who are not fully vaccinated or have pre-existing conditions.

“Ómicron is causing hospitalizations and deaths and even the less serious cases are flooding health centers. The new wave of infections is by no means light for our health systems,” he stressed.

Faced with the new wave of Covid-19, PAHO renewed the call to get vaccinated and maintain the use of masks and social distancing.

More than 60% of the inhabitants of Latin America and the Caribbean have their complete anticovid vaccination schedule, but 10 countries did not achieve the goal of 40% of the population immunized by December 31, 2021. Among them, Haiti is the only which did not reach 20%, the minimum threshold to care for health workers and the most vulnerable population.

PAHO’s goal is to vaccinate at least 70% of the population of the Americas by mid-2022. Venezuela says it is approaching 100% vaccination with two doses and has already started applying the third dose.

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