Although they are not at-risk populations, children, adolescents and young people in Latin America are increasingly infected with COVID-19, the UN warned. The most recent number exceeded half a million cases and continues to rise. Meanwhile, the population of 20 to 29 represents the age group with the most infections in the US.
According to the director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Carissa Etienne, the trends of COVID-19 infections have changed in Latin America. Contrary to what was seen during the first months of the pandemic, it is now young people who are being most attacked.
“More than half a million children and adolescents in our region have been infected and these numbers continue to rise,” Etienne reported during a press conference in early October.
In addition, the young population between the age of 20 and 29 accounts for the highest number of COVID-19 infections in the United States compared to other age groups. “In fact, they account for more than 20% of new cases,” he said. This may be partly because most do not identify that they are infected because, as a result of low age, their symptoms are usually mild or no symptoms at all.
“While many young people will not get sick or need a bed in the Intensive Care Unit, they are not immune to developing the serious effects of COVID-19,” he recalled.
The Americas: number one in COVID-19 cases
There are more than 17 million cases and 574,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the Americas. With Brazil and the United States at the forefront, the number is growing even in countries that, so far, had had good control over outbreaks, such as Cuba and Jamaica, says the UN.
“We remain home to half of all COVID cases and more than half of all deaths worldwide,” Etienne said. For this reason, he stressed that it is necessary for all the countries of the continent to work together to overcome it: “there is no other way,” he argued.
In addition, he referred to social inequality and how it influences who is infected. For example, in the United States, which is home to more than 40% of new cases in the region, the black, Hispanic and Native populations are almost three times more likely to contract COVID-19 than white people.
On the other hand, “in the Amazonian areas of Colombia and Brazil, indigenous peoples are ten times more likely to contract COVID-19 than other groups,” he added, also expressing concern for the migrant and refugee population.