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Caribbean L 24 ife, JUNE 11-17, 2021
PAHO Director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne. Associated Press / Pablo Martinez Monsivais, fi le
Caribbean urged to
prepare for ‘dual threat’
By Nelson A. King
Pan American Health Organization
(PAHO) Director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne
on Tuesday called on national and local
authorities in Caribbean and other countries
at risk for hurricanes to prepare for
the 2021 hurricane season.
Dominican-born Dr. Etienne warned
that COVID-19 and the potential devastation
of high winds and flooding make preparation
even more critical than usual.
“We must safeguard our countries
and territories against the dual threat of
COVID-19 and the hurricane season,” Dr.
Etienne said. “We must ensure that health
services are fully operational to save lives
and protect the well-being of populations
before, during and after hurricanes.
“We must also make sure that emergency
care, hospitalization, ICU (Intensive
Care Unit) beds, laboratories, and quarantine
and isolation centers are protected
and functional,” she added.
PAHO noted that June 1 marked the
start of the Atlantic hurricane season,
which is forecast to have a 60 percent
chance of above-normal activity, according
to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric
The forecast is for 13 to 20 named
storms, including six to 10 hurricanes and
three to five major hurricanes.
PAHO said it is working to provide
emergency supplies, and assist in securing
critical facilities in countries in Latin
America and the Caribbean.
On Thursday, PAHO said it will hold a
preparedness meeting with representatives
from the disaster coordination agencies of
all countries in the Americas, including
The online meeting to identify resources
and adjust preparedness and readiness
plans will include panelists from
the World Meteorological Organization
(WMO), NOAA´s National Hurricane Center,
the Coordination Center for Natural
Disaster Prevention in Central America
(CEPREDENAC, per its Spanish initials)
and the Ministry of Health of Guatemala,
On May 20 and 21, PAHO said it met
with disaster management officials from
seven Central American countries and the
Dominican Republic to analyze the main
disaster risk reduction needs.
Dr. Etienne urged officials, particularly
those in the Caribbean, Central America,
Mexico and northern South America to
update national hurricane response plans,
and conduct simulation exercises.
She said countries should refine evacuation
plans, taking into consideration
additional measures for physical distancing
and extra hygiene and sanitation in
Etienne urged countries to strengthen
health care services by ensuring that
surge staff and essential supplies and protective
equipment will be readily available
She said these measures and actions
are especially important for countries and
territories still suffering the consequences
of the highly destructive 2020 hurricane
“Hurricanes ETA and IOTA in 2020
affected 9.9 million people and did considerable
damage to medical infrastructure
especially in Honduras, Guatemala,
Nicaragua and Colombia,” said Dr. Ciro
Ugarte, PAHO’s Director of Health Emergencies.
“Between last year’s storms and
the ongoing pandemic, preparedness and
risk reduction activities are more critical
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