COVID-19 Cases

Africa Records Alarming Rise In Deadly COVID-19 Infections

Africa has had an 83 per cent surge in COVID-19 cases, in the past few weeks.

This update was obtained from a new World Health Organisation pandemic assessment.

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The assessment revealed that the surge was a result of the new variants; Delta and Omicron.

Although the variants are causing fewer deaths than the previous variants, this might affect the reach of vaccines across the continent.

The assessment suggested that Africa may not reach 70 per cent vaccine coverage until August 2024.

The WHO noted that Africa recorded 196,000 new cases for the week that ended on December 12. In the previous week, the continent recorded 107,000 COVID-19 infections.

The update says that the cases of COVID-19 are doubling every five days.

Meanwhile, the surge may be alarming but the WHO says that deaths have remained low. It dropped by 19 per cent in the previous week.

In a press statement released by the health agency, a little more than 3000 deaths were reported. This was in the first three weeks of the current wave which is Africa’s fourth.

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The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, revealed that there were low hospitalizations.

 His words, “This upsurge in new cases coupled with low hospitalisations is particularly marked in South Africa which has experienced a 66 per cent rise in new cases during the past seven days compared with the previous seven days.

“While hospitalisations have increased by 67 per cent in the past seven days, the bed occupancy rate for Intensive Care Units remains low at 7.5 per cent, with 14 per cent of the hospitalised patients receiving supplemental oxygen. Though the deaths also remain low, this data should be interpreted with caution as the pattern may change in the coming weeks,” it said.

 “We are cautiously optimistic that deaths and severe illness will remain low in the current wave, but slow vaccine rollout in Africa means both will be much higher than they should be,” said the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti.

“We’ve known for quite some time now that new variants like Beta, Delta, or Omicron could regularly emerge to spark new outbreaks globally, but vaccine-deprived regions like Africa will be especially vulnerable,” Moeti said.

Vaccinations across Africa

The WHO said vaccination has spread largely across the continent. The UN agency also revealed that 10 per cent of their population had been vaccinated.

Also, read the latest health news update on COVID-19 in Nigeria

A few countries had, however, hit their target of vaccinating 40 per cent of their population. These countries are:

  • Seychelles.
  • Mauritius.
  • Morocco.
  • Tunisia.
  • Cape Verde.

However, Seychelles and Mauritius have reached a target of 70 per cent.

“In a world where Africa had the doses and support to vaccinate 70 per cent of its population by the end of 2021—a level many wealthy countries have achieved—we probably would be seeing tens of thousands of fewer deaths from COVID-19 next year,” Dr Moeti said.

“But we can still save many lives if we can accelerate the pace of vaccination in early 2022.”

Source: Punch HealthWise

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