PAHO Director Alerts on Pandemic Impacts on Children

Children is tested for COVID-19, 2021

PAHO Director Carissa Etienne reported that in the last week, infections have increased by 20% in the American continent, although they are declining or stabilizing in many other parts of the world.

On Wednesday, Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Carissa Etienne reported that over 1.9 million children and adolescents were infected with COVID-19 in the Americas in 2021. That figure implies an increase of 400,000 cases over 2020.

RELATED: The Americas Remains the Region Worst-Hit by COVID-19: PAHO

“As more adults receive their COVID-19 vaccines, children – who are not yet eligible for vaccination in most countries – are accounting for a higher percentage of hospitalizations and even deaths from COVID-19,” Etienne said.

“The pandemic is affecting their health in other ways. Children in our region are missing annual check-ups as well as routine vaccinations because of the disruption that has occurred in health services,” she added.

The PAHO director explained that half of the young people have experienced increased stress and anxiety during the pandemic. Still, mental health and support services remain out of reach for many.

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Confinement and economic disruption have increased the risk of domestic violence. For many children, homes are not safe places. Etienne urged countries in the Americas to guarantee support for minors and their caregivers.

“Our children have missed more school days than any other region. Despite the efforts made with virtual lessons, they can never replace face-to-face instruction because schools are not only places where children are educated but also places where they socialize and can receive support for their mental health,” said Etienne.

In the last week, infections have increased by 20 percent in the Americas, although they are declining or stabilizing in other parts of the world. Cases have increased by one-third in North America due to rises in the U.S. and Canada.

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