Swift action needed to curb deadly Covid-19 wave in Africa – WHO

The World Health Organization is calling for urgent action to help curb the rapid spread of COVID-19 across Africa, which is being fueled by the surge of more contagious strains of the virus.

WHO regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, warns the rampant spread of the more contagious alpha, beta, and delta strains are raising the pandemic threat across the continent to a new level, with latest reports showing Africa Covid-19 cases rising by 25 per cent week-on-week for the past one-and-a-half months.

“The speed and scale of Africa’s third wave are like nothing we have seen before,” said Dr Moeti.

“Cases are doubling every three weeks, compared to every four weeks at the start of the second wave.  Almost 202,000 cases were reported in the past week and the continent is on the verge of exceeding its worst week ever in this pandemic.”  

At the same time, WHO reports deaths have risen by 15 per cent across 38 African countries to nearly 3,000.

Dr Moeti says more people are falling ill and requiring hospitalization, including those younger than 45 years.  She says the evidence is growing that the delta variant is causing longer and more severe illnesses.

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With Africa’s life-saving Covid-19 vaccines out of stock, Dr Moeti says it is important for people to practice public health measures, such as wearing masks, social distancing, and frequent handwashing to check the spread.

She added that vaccines are proving highly effective against the COVID-19 variants and in ending devastating surges of severe cases of the disease, widely available in the world’s richest countries, but not Africa.

Dr Moeti is therefore appealing to countries to share their excess doses to help plug the continent’s vaccine gap, saying Africa must not be left languishing in the throes of its worst wave yet.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa has surpassed the 5.5 million mark as of Sunday, July 4, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Ethiopia and Egypt are the countries with the most cases in the continent, according to the Africa CDC.

Southern Africa is the most affected region, followed by the northern and eastern parts of the continent, while central Africa is the least affected region in the continent, according to the Africa CDC.

At the same time, the continent has recorded over 145,000 deaths in the same span of time, while about 4.9 million recoveries have been registered. Over 35 million vaccinations have been administered across the continent.

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