DR CARISSA F. ETIENNE, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). (Image: PAHO)

(AL JAZEERA) — Coronavirus infections are increasing in every country in the Americas and the Omicron variant has been detected in nearly every nation in the region, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said, putting pressure on already strained health systems.

In a weekly virtual briefing on Wednesday PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said over the past week, COVID-19 infections have nearly doubled in the Americas, rising from 3.4 million cases on January 1st to 6.1 million on January 8th.

“Infections are accelerating across every corner of the region of the Americas, and once again, our health systems are being challenged as emergency room visits and hospitalizations are rising,” Etienne said.

PAHO said the United States is reporting the bulk of the new cases but Argentina and Paraguay are seeing 300 percent increase in cases while Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil are experiencing “significant” rises in new cases. PAHO says 60 percent of Latin America and the Caribbean are fully vaccinated.