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Epidemiological Update: Dengue in the context of COVID-19 (3 December 2020)

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Situation Summary

Between epidemiological week (EW) 1 and EW 471 of 2020, 2,163,354 dengue cases were reported in the Region of the Americas (incidence rate of 221.6 cases per 100,000 population), including 872 deaths. Of these cases, 963,787 (45%) were confirmed by laboratory criteria and 5,197 (0.2%) were classified as severe dengue. The case fatality rate was 0.04%, the lowest recorded in the last 10 years, despite being an epidemiologically complex year for dengue due to the simultaneous pandemic transmission of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Although the cumulative incidence rate as of EW 47 of 2020 for the Region of the Americas is lower than that reported during the epidemic year 2019, it is higher than the incidence rate reported for the 2016-2018 period and it is the highest reported since 2015 in two sub-regions of the Americas: non-Latin Caribbean and Andean Subregion2. (Figure 1)

This situation occurs in parallel with an intense transmission of SARS-CoV-2. As of EW 47 of 2020 in the Region of the Americas, the total accumulated cases of COVID-19 were 24,563,640 (2,424 cases per 100,000 population) and 697,740 deaths (case fatality rate of 2.8%).

In the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the persistence of higher than expected dengue cases in endemic areas and the beginning of the summer season in the southern hemisphere will represent a significant challenge for the concerned populations and the systems that will need to respond to concomitant public health risk events.

Furthermore, recent hurricanes and storms have placed an additional burden on the already overburdened health systems in affected Central American countries and has caused the potential slowdown or postponement of vector control activities.