Two months ago, the US accounted for 75 percent of the Covid-19 cases in the Americas, the WHO's regional director Carissa Etienne said.

Maintaining social distancing parishioners pray during a Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, July 4, 2020.
Maintaining social distancing parishioners pray during a Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP)

Latin America and the Caribbean now account for 50 percent of the Covid-19 cases in the Americas, and the number of registered cases continues to accelerate, the World Health Organization's regional director Carissa Etienne said on Tuesday.

"This is a pandemic of staggering proportions and we have no option but to continue to put all our energy into controlling it," she said in a virtual briefing from Washington with Pan American Health Organization directors.

PAHO wished Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro a speedy recovery from his positive test result for Covid-19.

"The message is that this virus in unpredictable and does not respect race, class or people in power, despite security around any president," said PAHO director for communicable diseases Marcos Espinal.

For Brazil, the infection of its president should reinforce the need to strengthen implementations of social distancing recommendations and the use of masks to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, he said.

Two months ago, the United States accounted for 75 percent of the Covid-19 cases in the Americas, she said, warning that the WHO sees acceleration of cases in several US states, most of Central America and most of South America.

Some of Latin America's most persistent problems have contributed to the scale of the pandemic in the region, Etienne said: inequality, political division and health systems that have been weakened by years of under-investment.

READ MORE: Brazil's President Bolsonaro says he has coronavirus

'This epidemic is accelerating'

The emergencies chief of the World Health Organization says the coronavirus is continuing to gain pace globally. Noting the marked increase in the number of confirmed cases being reported in the past five or six weeks, he warned that a spike in deaths could be soon to follow.

“In April and May, we were dealing with 100,000 cases a day,” said Dr. Michael Ryan during a Tuesday press briefing. “Today we’re dealing with 200,000 a day.”

Ryan said that the number of Covid-19 deaths appeared to be stable for the moment, but he cautioned that there is often a lag time between when confirmed cases increase and when deaths are reported due to the time it takes for the coronavirus to run its course in patients.

Ryan also dismissed the idea that the significant jump in cases was due to more widespread testing and , said, “This epidemic is accelerating."

He says he hopes the collective knowledge gained about effectively treating Covid-19 patients helps keep the death rate relatively low, but that can't be guaranteed.

“We’ve only really experienced this rapid increase in cases over the last five to six weeks,” Ryan said. “So I don’t think it should be a surprise if the deaths start to rise again.”

Source: TRTWorld and agencies