Between January and April, 2021, more than 25 million cases of COVID-19 were reported in the Americas, and over 600,000 people died from the illness, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and PAHO. WHO also warned of spikes in coronavirus throughout Latin America, where new daily cases are approaching the highest levels seen at any time in the pandemic and eorts to staunch its spread are being hampered by limited vaccine supplies. And of the four countries worldwide with highest deathtolls, three are in the Americas (the United States, Brazil and Mexico).
Nearly every country in Central America is reporting a rise in the number of infections. Hospitalizations are at an all-time high in Costa Rica, and Guatemala’s hospitals have also reached maximum capacity. In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, cases are increasing among internally displaced people, following the recent eruption of La Soufriere volcano. The COVID-19 situation is also worsening across South America, where cases are mounting almost daily.
Brazil and Argentina were among the ten countries in the world registering the highest number of new infections, and Ecuador has declared a national state of emergency running through 20 May.
Immunization is moving slowly in Latin America and the Caribbean, where PAHO has delivered more than 7 million vaccines from the COVAX mechanism to 29 countries. Countries including Belize and Paraguay recently announced that asylum-seekers and refugees are included in their national vaccination plans. Click HERE to read more about the vaccination of refugees in Latin America. Many countries have ratcheted up public health measures by extending curfews, limiting re-openings, and imposing new stay-at-home orders. Chile enacted a law tightening migration protocols and border controls.
The United States announced a US$310 million aid package aimed at supporting El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in addressing the root causes of human mobility, as well as at strengthening democracy and the rule of law.
As of the end of March, the UNHCR/IOM/UNICEF operation supporting the US government’s decision to end the the Migrant Protection Protocol - MPP program had helped 9,501 asylum-seekers re-enter the United States in order to continue the asylum process from there.