The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr Carissa F Etienne, has called on all countries in the Americas, including the Caribbean, to take urgent action to reorganise their health services and protect health professionals in order to safely care for patients with the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and save lives.

During her weekly teleconference with the region’s health ministers, Dr. Etienne said the message is clear now is the time for countries to increase their capacity to detect cases, care for patients, and ensure that hospitals have the space, supplies and staff they need to provide the necessary care.

She urged them to involve citizens and other sectors in support of public health action.

Dr. Etienne said if everyone collaborates, it is not too late to contain the situation, flatten the epidemic curve and thereby avoid overloading the health services so that they can give the necessary care to all who need it.

PAHO said since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic on December 31, last year, until March 17, there were 191,127 cases and 7,807 deaths reported globally. The majority of these deaths are in China, Italy, Iran, Spain and France.

PAHO said, as of Wednesday, in the region of the Americas, 37 countries and territories reported 5,944 cases and 19 deaths.

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