The Americas enter its 26th week of fighting the coronavirus with the sad news of being the region with the highest number of infected health workers in the world but beginning to observe some auspicious indicators.
Despite the fact that internal transmission continues to be active, in the United States and Brazil, the countries that register the most positive for COVID-19 in the world, infections are beginning to stabilize.
In Central America, saving Nicaragua and Costa Rica, which had records of cases in one day, infections are beginning to decline.
The same is true in Uruguay and Chile in South America, although this subregion continues with alarming figures.
In the last seven days, Brazil has surpassed 120,000 deaths; Argentina 8,700; Mexico was on the brink of 65,000 deaths, Peru out of 30,000 and Colombia out of 20,000 deaths from SARS-CoV-2 virus.
However, Latin America registered a slight decrease in the number of deaths from COVID-19 in the last week, although the number is still worrying, with more than 1,800 deaths per day, almost the same incidence as in the United States and Canada.
The news is important for the region but especially for Mexico, which has the worst fatal incidence rate in the continent in relation to the number of infections, with 10.7 deaths per 100,000 people who contracted the disease.
The record is high if one takes into account that Canada follows, with 7.1 deaths per 100,000 cases, and Ecuador, with 5.7 deaths per 100,000 infections.
The entire region is close to registering the same number of deaths attributed to seasonal influenza worldwide for one year.
The risk of death from a COVID-19 infection depends on several factors; Much has to do with the previous health conditions of each patient but, with the sustained peak, fatalities are also caused by collapses in health systems.
“With an increase in staff and patients, hospitals overflowed and many were slow to implement triage protocols (classification of patients according to their severity and priority of care). This meant that PATIENTS with COVID-19 were exposed to others who might have been seeking care for other conditions, and soon everyone was at risk of infection, leaving health workers more vulnerable,” warned Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
Data from that organization shows that nearly 570,000 health workers across the Americas have fallen ill and more than 2,500 have died from the virus.
Surveys from the same office also show that in Chile, 70% of health workers were concerned about contracting COVID-19, and in Paraguay, more than 40% of health workers feel anxious, almost a third experience depression and more than a quarter suffer from insomnia.
In Mexico, a survey showed that almost half of the health workers did not receive personal protective equipment at work.
“This was especially problematic at first (from the pandemic), when personal protective equipment was running low and health workers were forced to reuse masks and gowns, look for alternatives, or give up protection altogether to care for those who are in need,” Etienne said in his weekly report.
The record of contagion in the last week also recorded a slight drop, close to 10%, although statistics still mark an average of 80,000 positives daily every 24 hours.
This week, Colombia exceeded 600,000 infections, Argentina 400,000 and Cuba 4,000; meanwhile, Mexico was close to 600,000 positives and Chile to 420,000.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, there are only 20 doctors per 10,000 people, much less than the 30 per 10,000 recommended by the World Health Organization.
They are the ones who fight against the deadly strain, but also against the behaviour of much of society, who still do not understand that in personal care and empathy for others, there is victory.