The W.H.O. warns against relaxing restrictions too quickly in Latin America.

World Health Organization officials on Wednesday expressed concerns that some countries in the Americas were prematurely scaling back policies to control the coronavirus, and urged them to double down on efforts to increase vaccination and testing as cases remain high in Europe.

Dr. Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, a regional arm of the W.H.O., said that while coronavirus cases had fallen in the Americas, they were increasing in some places, including the Caribbean and Canada, which has reported a 26 percent increase in cases over the past two weeks.

“We know what has happened elsewhere foreshadows what our region will face,” Dr. Etienne said during a conference call with reporters. “Time and time again we’ve seen how the infection dynamics in Europe are mirrored here just a few weeks later.”

In South America, a relatively large share of the population is fully vaccinated — 73 percent, according the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxford. But Dr. Etienne said that 240 million people in the Americas have yet to receive a single vaccine dose, putting them at risk as tourism and travel increase in the region. “We know what it takes to protect our people,” she said. “We have to keep filling vaccination gaps.”

Cuba, which has fully vaccinated 88 percent of its population, announced this week that starting Wednesday, travelers would no longer be required to present proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test result to enter the country.

Some countries have made changes to their testing strategies that could make it harder to detect and respond to potential outbreaks, Dr. Etienne said.

“Countries have to continue to monitor the virus to be prepared for what comes,” she said. “Many countries in recent weeks have scaled back public health measures prematurely.” 

Dr. Ciro Ugarte, director of health emergencies at P.A.H.O., said during the call that since Panama loosened its pandemic restrictions, it had not experienced a spike in cases, in part because it has an effective system for monitoring the virus.

In response to a question about Mexico, where reported cases have decreased 24 percent in the past two weeks, another P.A.H.O. official, Dr. Sylvain Aldighieri, said the organization did not recommend that Mexico ease its restrictions. He said the authorities should remain particularly vigilant this month, when many people in Latin America are likely to travel around Holy Week and Easter.

W.H.O. officials in other parts of the world have warned that relaxing pandemic rules too soon can lead to a surge in cases. Last month, while the highly transmissible Omicron subvariant BA.2 was sweeping through Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge, the organization’s director for the region, said that countries there were lifting restrictions “brutally, from too much to too few.”

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