SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — In Costa Rica, officials are encouraging those infected with the coronavirus to skip voting in upcoming national elections. On the other side of the world, Beijing is locking down residential communities as the country anxiously awaits the start of the Winter Olympics on February 4.
In Latin America and Asia, where the Omicron variant is making its latest appearance, some countries are imposing such restrictions while others are loath to place new limits on populations already exhausted by previous constraints.
Omicron quickly swept through the places it first hit, such as South Africa, the U.K. and the United States, pushing daily cases far higher than at any time during the pandemic.
The Americas reported nearly 7.2 million new Covid infections and more than 15,000 Covid-related deaths over the past week, the Pan American Health Organization said Wednesday. Coronavirus infections across the Americas almost doubled between January 1 and January 8, from 3.4 million cases to 6.1 million, PAHO said.
Infections are accelerating in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Peru, and hospitalizations are rising in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, said PAHO Director Carissa Etienne.
The Caribbean islands are experiencing their steepest increase in Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, Etienne noted.
“Although Omicron infections appear to be milder, we continue to urge caution because the virus is spreading more actively than ever before,” Etienne said.
Infections are also increasing in Asia, including in the Philippines, which has seen its worst coronavirus outbreak in recent weeks.
Countries in both regions are sear. (AP)