Epidemiological Alert: Increase of COVID-19 cases and … – ReliefWeb

In recent weeks, there has been an increase in new outpatient COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in 12 countries/territories in the Region of the Americas, which, along with the increase in hospitalizations due to influenza, RSV, and other respiratory viruses, could impact the demand for health services. PAHO/WHO urges Member States to update the prevention, preparedness and response plans of the healthcare system across all levels in order to respond to a possible increase in outpatient cases, hospitalizations, ICU admissions and/or deaths, as well as to establish strategies for increasing the proportion of the vaccinated, mainly among vulnerable and high-risk populations.
Summary of the epidemiological situation
Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020 and up to December 20, 2022, a cumulative total of approximately 650 million COVID-19 cases including about 6.6 million deaths were reported globally. Approximately 3,821,620 new COVID-19 cases and 10,737 new COVID-19 deaths were reported in epidemiological week (EW) 50 (December 11, 2022-December 17, 2022).
In the Region of the Americas, cases increased for the sixth consecutive week. During EW 50, 1,022,218 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the region of the Americas – a relative increase of 17.9% compared to previous week (Figure 1). For the same period, 4,637 COVID-19 deaths were reported in the region of the Americas – a relative increase of 2.5% compared to previous week (Figure 1). At the subregional level, COVID-19 cases and deaths increased in two subregions – the South American subregion (49.6% and 55.0%, respectively) and the Central American subregion (10.4% and 57.7%, respectively).
Among 22 countries/territories in the region with available data1, COVID-19 hospitalizations increased in 12 countries and territories2 during EW 50 compared to the previous week. Among 16 countries and territories with available data, COVID-19 ICU admissions increased in 7 countries and territories3 (Figure 2).
During EW 50 of 2022, the United States of America reported an increase in weekly hospitalizations (n=39,888, 4.1% increase) and ICU admissions (n=4,648, 7.5% increase) for the fifth consecutive week (Figure 2). Additionally, the 2022–23 influenza season shows an early rise in influenza-associated hospitalizations in the USA mainly in adults of 65 years and more (Figure 3).
Influenza, RSV and SARS-CoV-2 viruses individually contribute to pediatric morbidity. The prevalence and severity of coinfection with influenza and SARS-CoV-2 are less well understood since circulation of influenza and other respiratory viruses increased recently in 2022.
Furthermore, an increase in cases and deaths is being reported in the Wester Pacific Region and Europe since October and November 2022 respectively (Figure 4). The epidemiological situation observed in these two Regions along with the increase in hospitalization reported in North America could increase the demand for medicines and supplies and stress the COVID19 response in the coming months.
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