Panama expects “tough weeks” for the fourth pandemic wave

A man undergoes a coronavirus swab test in Panama City, in a file photo. EFE / Welcome Velasco

Panama City, Jan 9 (EFE) .- Panama’s health authorities wait for “tough weeks” due to the fourth pandemic wave that the country is experiencing and that so far has not impacted on the hospital system, which has a high availability of beds .
Panama is experiencing a very accelerated rise in the number of new daily cases of covid-19, a behavior driven by the omicron variant, which according to local experts has already displaced the delta and is the dominant one in this country of 4.28 million population.
With 4,066 this Sunday, there are 13,913 new infections in three days. Last Friday the barrier of 5,000 daily cases was broken, a figure that was recorded at the peak of the second pandemic wave that the country suffered at the beginning of 2021.
“I believe, and the (health) team considers, according to the forecasts we have made, that we still have some tough weeks left, where the cases will continue to increase (…) our responsibility is to continue taking care of ourselves,” he said. this Sunday the head of the Ministry of Health (Minsa), Luis Francisco Sucre.
The minister praised citizens because they are flocking to be diagnosed with the disease: “between 12,000 and 20,000 tests are carried out daily,” and announced that more swab centers will be installed.
According to the daily report of the Minsa, this Sunday there are 43 patients hospitalized in the intensive care units (ICU) and 292 in the general ward, triple the number a month ago, but very far from the figures that were registered in the second wave pandemic, when vaccination had not yet started.
“The Panamanian health system has a capacity of 6,835 beds, of which 88% are available and 12% occupied, according to a report by the hospital network of the Minsa and the Social Security Fund (CSS), at the level national as of January 4, 2022, “said a statement released this Sunday.
The vertiginous advance of the fourth wave is evidenced in the number of people isolated in their homes and in hotels for having tested positive for the covid: 36,796 and 447 this Sunday, respectively, when a month ago there were only 2,890 and 91.
In total, Panama accumulates up to this Sunday 526,315 cases of covid-19 and 7,465 deaths, after the seven registered in the last hours.
The health authorities of Panama are betting on vaccination and measures such as the use of a mask and physical distancing to combat this fourth pandemic wave. They have not established restrictions on mobility, although they have suspended public activities that involve crowds.
According to the available information, 71.1% of the target population, persons 5 years of age and older, have received two doses of the anticovid vaccine and 78.9% one dose.
In addition, at least 517,533 booster injections have been applied, authorized for those over 16 years of age, and 7,959 third doses to immunosuppressed patients.

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