MIAMI – The COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen in terms of caseloads and deaths with total fatalities crossing the threshold of one million in the Americas on Monday, 7,700 deaths having been confirmed in the past 24 hours, according to the World Health Organization, a situation that has motivated countries throughout the region to implement or reimpose more stringent health protocols.
The death toll figure appears to need no explanation, but Martha Keays, with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) put the number into context, saying in a statement that the loss of life is “colossal” and is the equivalent of half the population of Havana or Quito.
The world is approaching the level of 100 million confirmed coronavirus cases, with 99,368,828 cases being the last official tally, along with 2.13 million deaths, of which half have occurred in the Americas, where the spread of the virus in countries like Brazil, Colombia and Mexico is overwhelming the intensive care units to the point where not a single new patient can be admitted in certain locales and the sick must be transported to other hospitals or even to other cities.
The situation is alarming in certain regions. For instance, in recent days, in Manaos, the capital of Brazil’s Amazonas state, where hospitals are being saturated with COVID patients and health personnel are racing against the clock to fill oxygen containers for the seriously ill.
It is not a positive start to the week, with 43 million confirmed cases in the Americas and 32 million in Europe, according to statistics compiled by the WHO after on Sunday it was confirmed that the United States had crossed the 25 million case threshold.
In addition, the infection curve continues to climb in Latin American nations like Colombia, which has suffered more than two million cases, Argentina with 1.8 million and Mexico with 1.7 million.
The US on Monday stood at 25,127,632 confirmed cases and 419,263 deaths, according to the independent tally being kept by the Johns Hopkins University, a figure that is 25 percent of the world total and 7.62 percent of the 328 million residents of the US.
The United States leads the world both in confirmed COVID cases and in deaths.
Given the situation, President Joe Biden has said that in February the US will surpass half a million COVID deaths and that in all more than 600,000 people will die from the disease. Among the urgent measures he has taken to fight the pandemic, on Monday he ordered the travel ban for people coming to the US to include South Africa in an effort to prevent people carrying the new mutation of the virus detected in that country from bringing it in with them.
But another concern that must be addressed by the Biden administration is the supply of vaccines at a time when local authorities have warned that they have very few doses available or have even exhausted the doses they were allocated.
The warnings come after numerous vaccination appointments have had to be cancelled due to lack of vaccine in states like Texas, which – after California – has suffered the largest number of confirmed COVID cases, more than three million.