By Laura Gamba
BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - Latin America should not relax measures aimed at containing the spread of coronavirus until vaccines become available, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa Etienne said on Wednesday.
"Europe has surpassed the Americas in the number of infections this week, after some restrictions were relaxed and the increased number of trips during the summer," said Etienne.
"Testing, treatment and isolation of cases, as well as contact tracing, are all part of a good surveillance strategy and very few countries are doing it well in our region," she added.
Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency said on Wednesday that a volunteer in a clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University has died, but added that the trial would continue.
"Following careful assessment of this case in Brazil, there have been no concerns about safety of the clinical trial and the independent review in addition to the Brazilian regulator have recommended that the trial should continue," a spokesperson for the University of Oxford said in a statement.
CNN Brasil reported that the volunteer was a 28-year-old man who lived in Rio de Janeiro and died from COVID-19 complications. It is not clear whether the volunteer received the vaccine or the placebo.
With almost 155,000 deaths related to COVID-19, and 5.273.954 cases, Brazil has the second-deadliest outbreak of coronavirus in the world.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Wednesday his government will not buy a Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccine, a day after his health minister said it would purchase 46 million doses of CoronaVac.
"The Brazilian people will not be anyone's guinea pig," he said.
An outbreak of COVID-19 among Costa Rican lawmakers forced the suspension of Legislative Assembly sessions on Wednesday. At least 14 legislative officials and three advisors have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to newspaper La Nacion.
Health authorities in the Central American country have informed that cases have increased in the last few days.
It has registered 99,425 coronavirus cases and 1,236 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
The last country to report coronavirus cases in the continent is seeing a surge in cases. Etienne expressed her concerns Wednesday due to the rise in cases during recent weeks in Belize.
There are 2,886 cases and 45 deaths associated with the virus.
A crowd filled the main plaza in the Colombian capital Bogota on Wednesday to protest the government's handling of the pandemic, the killing of indigenous leaders and the implementation of the peace agreement with the guerrillas.
Indigenous leaders, students and trade unionists gathered waving flags and holding banners. Teachers also joined the demonstrations to demand safety protocols to return to work.
Colombia registers 981,700 COVID-19 cases and almost 30,000 deaths.
Venezuela will start to vaccinate citizens with Russian and Chinese coronavirus vaccines, which could arrive in the South American nation in December, President Nicolas Maduro announced.
The country registers 87,644 cases and 747 deaths.