Bolivia is currently grappling with a significant surge in COVID-19 cases, which has been labeled as an “outbreak” by the Ministry of Health. The outbreak, which began towards the end of last year and the start of this year, is expected to diminish in February. However, authorities are cautioning the public about the possibility of another outbreak later in the year, coinciding with lower temperatures. Minister of Health and Sports, María Renée Castro, stressed the importance of continuously following biosecurity measures and getting vaccinated to curb the spread of the virus.
Genomic surveillance has identified a case involving the JN.1 subvariant in Santa Cruz. The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated this subvariant as a variant of interest. During the 52nd epidemiological week, Bolivia witnessed a notable surge in COVID-19 cases, with a staggering 128% increase compared to the previous week. The highest number of infections were recorded in Santa Cruz, followed by Cochabamba and La Paz.
Hospitals in Bolivia are witnessing a rise in COVID-19 admissions, while outpatient clinics are experiencing long queues of individuals seeking medical assistance. Local news outlets have also reported an uptick in COVID-19 cases across the country. Minister Castro confirmed one death in Santa Cruz during the last epidemiological week and emphasized that this surge in cases is considered a “normal behavior” and not indicative of a new wave of infections. Authorities are closely monitoring the situation.
Since the commencement of the vaccination campaign in 2021, Bolivia has administered over 16 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The recent surge in cases has primarily affected individuals between the ages of 20 and 39, underscoring the significance of vaccination within this age group. The Ministry of Health has reiterated the ongoing epidemiological alert for COVID-19, emphasizing the need for preventive measures and vigilant monitoring of emerging variants.
Bolivia has encountered six waves of the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020, highlighting the persistent challenges in managing and containing the virus. This situation underscores the critical importance of vaccination, adherence to preventive measures, and monitoring of emerging variants to control the spread of the virus within the population.