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WHO Concerned About COVID-19 Impact on Indigenous People in Americas

Indigenous people from Yanomami ethnic group are seen, amid the spread of COVID-19, at the 4th Surucucu Special Frontier Platoon of the Brazilian army in the municipality of Alto Alegre, state of Roraima, Brazil, July 1, 2020.

The World Health Organization expressed concern Monday about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Indigenous populations in the Americas.

Speaking at his regular briefing from agency headquarters in Geneva, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that while COVID-19 is a risk for all of the world’s Indigenous people, the agency is deeply concerned about the impact of the virus on Indigenous people in the Americas, the current epicenter of the pandemic.

Tedros reports that as of the July 6, more than 70,000 cases have been reported among Indigenous people in the Americas and more than 2,000 deaths. He was specifically concerned about COVID-19 cases among Peru’s Amazonian Nahua people.

WHO’s regional Office for the Americas recently published recommendations for preventing and responding to COVID-19 among Indigenous people. The agency is also working with the coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin to step up the fight against the coronavirus.

Tedros also stressed the need for contact tracing to keep the coronavirus from spreading in all communities.

“Contact tracing is essential for every country, in every situation," Tedros said. “It can prevent individual cases from becoming clusters, and clusters turning into community transmission.”

As of Monday, WHO reports 14,263,202 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with 602,244 deaths. The Americas remains the region with the largest total number of cases with 7,517,712. The United States continues to lead the world with 3,618,497 cases. Brazil is second, with 2,074,860 cases.