Ernest Omoarelojie with Agency Reports
The World Health Organization, Who, has predicted that Africa will face the steepest surge in the course of the 3rd wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. WHO made the prediction on Thursday during online briefing by its Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti.
According to Dr Moeti, the surge is spreading more rapidly in the continent hence the projection that soon, it is likely to overtake the peak of the second wave at the first quarter of the year.
“As of 20 June 20 — Day 48 into the new wave — Africa had recorded around 474 000 new cases-a 21 per cent increase compared with the first 48 days of the second wave. At the current rate of infections, the ongoing surge is set to surpass the previous one by early July as the pandemic is resurging in 12 African countries.”
Moeti identified a combination of factors, including weak observance of public health measures, increased social interaction and movement as well as the spread of variants as the factors powering the new surge, citing the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda as experiencing Covid-19 resurgence in which the Delta variant has been detected in most samples sequenced in the past month.
She noted that across Africa, the Delta variant, first identified in India, has been reported in at least, 14 African countries.
“The third wave is picking up speed, spreading faster, hitting harder. With rapidly rising case numbers and increasing reports of serious illness, the latest surge threatens to be Africa’s worst yet.
Africa can still blunt the impact of these fast-rising infections, but the window of opportunity is closing. Everyone everywhere can do their bit by taking precautions to prevent transmission,” she said.
Moeti Assures however, that WHO is deploying more experts to some of the worst-affected countries, including Uganda and Zambia, including supporting South Africa-based regional laboratories to monitor variants of concern. According to her, WHO is equally boosting innovative technological support to other laboratories in the region without sequencing capacities to better monitor the evolution of the virus.
“In the next six months, WHO is aiming for an eight- to ten-fold increase in the samples sequenced each month in Southern African countries. The COVID-19 upsurge comes as the vaccine supply crunch persists.
Eighteen African countries have used over 80 per cent of their COVAX vaccine supplies, with eight having exhausted their stocks.
Twenty-nine countries have administered over 50 per cent of their supplies. Despite the progress, just over 1 per cent of Africa’s population has been fully vaccinated.
Globally, around 2.7 billion doses administered, of which just under 1.5 per cent have been administered in the continent,” Moeti disclosed