OPS: holidays and end-of-year parties trigger contagion by 490%

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) revealed the possible causes why Panama has had a 490% increase in infections in two weeks.

The epidemic curve shows the fourth peak of the pandemic with an abrupt increase after Week 51 of 2021 (December 19 to 25), reaching 24,441 new cases in Week 1 of 2002; In other words, there was an increase of 490.2% in just two weeks.

The increase in cases registered in recent weeks -according to PAHO- can be attributed to the holiday season and the end of the year festivities, which have led to situations of greater interaction between people, thus favoring transmission, due to crowds, high mobility and relaxation of individual prevention measures and physical distancing.

It also stands out that as of January 8, 2022, at the national level, hospital room occupancy was 52% (3.0153), in ICU 48% (310) and ventilators 21% (234).

Ward patients show a progressive increase from week 50 (December 18) and in ICU / Semi-ICU from week 51. The average admission to ward in Week 1 of 2022 was 223 patients, with a minimum of 153 and a maximum of 303, and in ICU / Semi-ICU it is 34 with between 30 and 40 daily admissions on average.

The moving average of new cases in 7 days, which remained below 400 from Week 36 (September 5 to 11) until Week 50 (December 12 to 18), shows a significant rise until reaching a moving average above the 3,500 cases in the last week.

Another aspect that PAHO highlights is that the positivity in the tests shows an increase of 203%, going from 6.3% in the Week to 19.1% in Week 1, which translates into the detection of one case every five tests carried out in the population.

In addition, it is noted that the virus reproduction index or Rt, which remained below 1 between the first week of July and November 8, registers a sustained increase for six consecutive weeks and has registered the highest values ​​of the last year, with an increase to Rt = 1.82 in the first week of the year 2022.

The young age groups present the highest incidence rates with important increases since Week 51; thus, the group from 20 to 39 years old reports an increase of 527.6%); the group from 40 to 59 years old (514%) and those under 20 years old (390.4%). The groups that had a slight increase were those from 60 to 79 c (increase of 289%) and those aged 80 and over with (increase of 261.5%).

Three provinces stand out with the highest incidence in Week 1 and, in turn, with an incidence of assets higher than the national average of 777.6 active cases per 100,000 inhabitants. These are: Los Santos with an incidence of 1,399.5 and 2,015.0 active cases per 100,000 inhab .; Herrera with an incidence of 1,353.9 and 2,053 active cases and Panama with an incidence of 760.5 and 1,073.4 cases.

PAHO also warned that influenza outbreaks are also occurring in several countries, mainly due to influenza A (H3N2). For this reason, the demand for diagnostic tests has reached a level never seen before, causing a shortage of laboratory equipment and diagnostic tests in several countries.

Faced with this current epidemiological situation observed, characterized by a rapid increase in the number of cases and the consequent abrupt increase in the consumption of diagnostic tests, the Pan American Health Organization recommends that rapid antigen and molecular tests (RT-PCR) are not used. used in asymptomatic individuals, as a requirement to leave isolation and to access public places.

It is not recommended for home use (self-test), because there is not enough evidence to support its impact on transmission control. On the contrary, a sample taken inappropriately by untrained people, in people without symptoms or with low-quality tests, can generate false negative results, giving a feeling of false security even in infected people, thus leading to relaxation of control measures and distancing.

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