Covid-19: countries with more cases per million inhabitants 0:43
The uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus through the Americas accounted for a significant part of all global deaths from covid-19 last week, according to the director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Carissa Etienne.
"One in four COVID deaths reported worldwide last week took place here in the Americas," he told a virtual press conference on Wednesday.
"Almost all the Central American countries report an increase in infections."
And Canadian infection rates have exceeded US infection rates for the first time, Etienne added.
Coronavirus crisis: differences between India and Latin America
New variants of the coronavirus are helping drive the rise in infections in the region, while slow vaccination, due in part to unavailability of vaccines, poses additional setbacks for several countries in the Americas.
The robust US vaccination campaign has been an exception.
Covid-19 in Latin America
In Central and South America, many health systems are struggling to cope with the influx of patients and increasingly have younger patients, he said.
And he noted that hospitalizations are "at an all-time high" in Costa Rica, hospitals in Guatemala have reached their maximum capacity and hospitals in several major cities in Colombia are running out of intensive care beds.
Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay also report an increase in infections.
Covid-19: Brazil has more deaths this year than in 2020 0:45
Brazil has long been among the worst affected nations in the Americas, with the second highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the world after the United States, and the third highest number of cases after the United States and India, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a skeptic of the coronavirus, is now facing a government investigation into his handling of the pandemic.
As of this week, more than 317 million doses of vaccines have been administered in 49 countries and territories in the region, according to Etienne.
Nearly 7 million of them were purchased through Covax, the vaccine distribution program supported by the World Health Organization and the Vaccine Alliance known as GAVI.
Countries should receive their second Covax shipments in the coming weeks, he said.