PAHO Warns Of SARS-CoV-2 Circulation In The Caribbean – St. Lucia Times

The content originally appeared on: St. Lucia Times News

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has warned that SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses are circulating in the Region of the Americas, including the Caribbean.

The disclosure came this week as PAHO issued an epidemiological update on respiratory viruses in the Region.

According to the organization, the update provides recommendations for maintaining virus surveillance and strengthening health systems response, particularly given the current outbreaks of other infectious diseases.

It noted that 2023 recorded elevated levels of acute respiratory disease in the Region, driven by the circulation of SARS-CoV-2, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus.

“Currently, the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing epidemics of all three viruses expected in the winter, while some countries in the Southern Hemisphere are experiencing incidences higher than expected for the season due to the circulation of SARS-CoV-2,” PAHO noted.

PAHO  recommended that Member States maintain surveillance of respiratory viruses to detect any circulation changes or disease severity.

It also urged the Region to prepare to respond to a possible increase in cases and hospitalizations while continuing efforts to increase vaccination against influenza and COVID-19, particularly in vulnerable and high-risk populations.

Last week, the Ministry of Health cautioned Saint Lucians against spreading respiratory illnesses amid the current flu season.

” To date, both respiratory syncytial virus and influenza type A have been isolated,” disclosed Medical Surveillance Officer Dr. Dana Gomez.

Gomez advised the public to maintain proper hand hygiene, wash their hands after coughing or sneezing, and wear a mask where possible in public places.

Should flu-like symptoms worsen, the Health Ministry has advised citizens to consult a healthcare professional.