(CMR) The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) office for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean countries has advised the public and health authorities to continue to take appropriate and urgent public health and social measures (PHSM) to safeguard lives due to an increase in cases and hospitalization related to COVID-19 Variant of Concern (VOC) Delta in the Eastern Caribbean.
According to a release issued on Monday, the PAHO/WHO regional office said several countries reported the emergence of the Delta variant including from Member States in the Americas with high vaccination coverage.
“The VOC Delta exhorts the importance of the preparatory process for the expansion of care capacity in the face of the potential increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and death,” the release stated.
In June and July 2021, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Virgin Islands-UK, Anguilla, Grenada, Dominica, Monserrat, and Barbados showed a steady increase and surge.
PAHO/WHO said it is necessary to maximize efforts to extend full COVID-19 vaccination coverage, especially in high-risk populations, health, and care workers, as well as to reinforce non-pharmacological prevention and protection measures, such as physical distancing, the use of individual face masks, the use of antiseptic solutions.
“As unvaccinated adults constitute a large percentage (95%) of the COVID-19 caseload in each country, vaccination coverage in those persons and families affected by the outbreak have been below optimal,” said Dr. Yitades Gebre, PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean Countries.
PAHO warned that unvaccinated persons are the main source of infection to the larger community, and urged individuals if offered to be vaccinated to take up the offer and get vaccinated.
The organization also urged unvaccinated health and care workers to be vaccinated without any further delay to protect themselves and the community they are serving.
PAHO said it will continue to provide COVID-19 test kits, personal protective devices, medicines, and personnel to support laboratory and surveillance services to identify new infections in each country.
“We strongly advise that collective action is required to prevent the loss of lives and livelihood. PAHO also thank countries who are recently sharing vaccine doses to Eastern Caribbean Countries and Barbados by ensuring equal access to COVID-19 vaccines,” the release stated.