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WHO chief concerned about pandemic situation of indigenous peoples in the Americas

With the Americas still the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact on the region’s indigenous people is of deep concern, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday. Courtesy photo

Kampala, Uganda | XINHUA | The chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday that his organization is deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on indigenous peoples in the Americas, the current epicenter of the pandemic.

WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference Monday that as of July 6, over 70,000 cases and more than 2,000 deaths had been reported among indigenous peoples in the Americas.

“Most recently, at least 6 cases have been reported among the Nahua people, who live in the Peruvian Amazon,” the WHO chief said.

According to him, there are up to 500 million indigenous peoples worldwide in over 90 countries, who often have a high burden of poverty, unemployment, malnutrition and both communicable and non-communicable diseases, making them more vulnerable to COVID-19 and its severe outcomes.

Dr. Tedros stressed that one of the key tools for suppressing transmission in indigenous communities, as well as other communities, is contact tracing.

“No country can get control of its epidemic if it doesn’t know where the virus is,” he noted.

WHO’s regional office for the Americas recently published recommendations for preventing and responding to COVID-19 among indigenous peoples, and WHO is also working with the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin to step up the fight against COVID-19, Tedros said.

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