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PAHO Director calls to accelerate and expand testing for COVID-19 in the Americas

Pan American Health Organization | 2020-04-22 00:00:00

Washington, DC, April 21, 2020 (PAHO)— The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Carissa F. Etienne, today called for accelerated and expanded testing for COVID-19 in countries of the Americas. “We need a clearer view of where the virus is circulating and how many people have been infected in order to guide our actions,” she said.

Speaking at a virtual press briefing, Dr. Etienne said, “The pandemic continues to impact our region, and it’s vital for all countries to actively embrace preventive measures, while preparing for more cases, hospitalizations and deaths.”

As of April 20, there have been 839,119 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 42,686 people have died in the Region of the Americas.

The PAHO Director said that countries have been prepared to test and detect cases of COVID-19 since before the pandemic was declared. Since February, PAHO had trained and equipped laboratories for PCR testing in more than 30 countries. But as cases have increased, countries have found it increasingly difficult to keep up, she noted.

Dr. Etienne highlighted PAHO’s recommendations for countries: to expand their capacity and use all available national laboratories; to prioritize patients with symptoms, tracing contacts and following up with those that may be infected; and to ensure access for all so testing would be free of charge for patients.

PAHO has provided more than 500,000 PCR tests to 34 countries and territories, “and we have worked with other countries to track and support their capacity,” Dr. Etienne said

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