BRASILIA, May 12 (Reuters) - Nearly 40% of all global deaths from COVID-19 reported last week happened in the Americas, and nearly 80% of the region's intensive care units are filled with COVID-19 patients, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.
"This is a clear sign that transmission is far from being controlled in our region, even as countries like the United States and Brazil are reporting reductions in cases," PAHO Director Carissa Etienne told a webcast news conference.
India's B.1.617 predominant coronavirus variant has been detected in six countries in the Americas, and PAHO is worried because it is highly transmissible, incident manager Sylvain Aldighieri said.
Eight cases of the Indian variant have been detected, mainly involving travelers, in Mexico, Panama, Argentina, Aruba, Dutch St. Maarten and Guadeloupe, a department of France, PAHO said.
The World Health Organization's recent approval of China's Sinopharm vaccine will offer fresh hope of expanding access to vaccines in Latin American countries, PAHO said.
More than 140 million people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the Americas, Etienne said.
"But until we have enough vaccines to protect everyone, our health systems and the patients that rely on them remain in danger," she warned.
Across the Americas region, nearly 80% of our intensive care units are filled with COVID-19 patients, and the numbers are even more dire in some places, she said.
The number of cases is falling in Brazil, but reportedinfections are surging in the areas of Guyana and Bolivia that border Brazil, the PAHO said. In Colombia, it expects even steeper rises in cases following a week of protests there.
Cuba continues to drive most new infections in the Caribbean, the organization said, while Canada is seeing higher rates of infections in the east and across the northern territory, home to a majority indigenous population.
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