Africa Covid-19 infections, deaths up 40%

COVID-19 infections and deaths are continuing on an upward trend in Africa with the continent having registered a 40 percent surge last week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

In the preceding week, the global health authority reported that Covid-19 cases had gone up by 52 percent
The continent has to date recorded a total of 5,394,709 Covid-19 cases including 140,976 deaths.

Zimbabwe has to date recorded 46, 442 Covid-19 infections and 1, 736 deaths.

Speaking during the Africa regional health summit in Kampala, Uganda, Sunday, WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said Covid-19 developments in Africa were “worrying.”

“Across the African continent, we are seeing an extremely worrying rise in Covid-19 cases and serious illness,” said the WHO chief.

“The third wave is spreading quickly and hitting hard. The number of cases and deaths in Africa increased by almost 40% in the past week, and in some countries, the number of deaths tripled or quadrupled. The epidemic is resurging in 12 African countries, and is rising in many others, driven by a mix of public fatigue, social mixing, ineffective use of public health and social measures, and vaccine inequity, and the spread of new variants.”

He said the impacts of Covid-19 would be felt beyond the disease itself.

“Nearly every country in our continent reports disruptions to essential health services,” said Ghebreyesus.

“With the support of the Access to Covid-19 tools accelerator and COVAX, 47 countries in the African continent have started vaccinating. However, the volumes of vaccines are nowhere near enough. So far, Africa has administered just over 45 million doses or 1.6% of the global total. And this is tragic.

Ghebreyesus said if countries were to immediately share doses with COVAX and with manufacturers prioritising COVAX orders, the world could vaccinate at least 10% of the population of every country by September, and at least 40% by the end of the year.

“Dose sharing must happen immediately to fill an urgent supply gap: we need an additional 250 million doses by September, with 100 million in June and July,” he said.

“Vaccine equity is the best way to control the pandemic and reboot the global economy. The pandemic has demonstrated that Africa cannot rely solely on imports of vaccines from the rest of the world. We must build that capacity through local and regional manufacturing, not only for Covid-19 vaccines, but for other vaccines and medical products.

He added that a number of measures needed to be taken to end the pandemic.

“Vaccines alone will not end this pandemic,” said the WHO director-general.

“The same public health measures that have been the bedrock of the continental strategy must remain central to the response. It’s those public health measures that Africa did better until recently.

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