Global health systems are now overwhelmed by the third wave of Covid-19 with the World Health Organisation (WHO) saying the increase in the number of infections is creating a shortage of treatments such as life-saving oxygen.
To date, over 198 million cases of Covid-19 including 4.22 million deaths have been recorded across the world to date.
Zimbabwe alone has over 110, 000 coronavirus infections, 3, 583 are fatalities as the third wave rages on.
“Twenty-nine countries have high and rising oxygen needs and many countries have inadequate supplies of basic equipment to protect frontline health workers,” said WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, while briefing the media on the pandemic last Friday.
“Hard-won gains are in jeopardy or being lost, and health systems in many countries are being overwhelmed. WHO is supporting countries with supplies of oxygen, with guidance to help countries better detect variants, and we continue to work daily with our global networks of experts to understand why the Delta variant spreads so readily.”
The WHO chief said almost 4 million cases were reported two weeks ago, adding they expected the total number of cases to pass 200 million within the next two weeks.
“On average, in five of WHO’s six regions, infections have increased by 80%, or nearly doubled, over the past four weeks,” said Ghebreyesus.
He said the Covid-19 virus has been changing since it was first reported, adding four variants of concern have emerged, and there will be more as long as the virus continues to spread.
“The rise is also driven by increased social mixing and mobility, the inconsistent use of public health and social measures, and inequitable vaccine use,” he said.
Ghebreyesus said the world needs more strategic testing to improve the global understanding of where the virus is, where public health interventions are most needed, and to isolate cases and reduce transmissions.
“We need patients to receive early clinical care by trained and protected health workers, with more oxygen to treat the seriously ill and save lives,” said Ghebreyesus.
“We need well-trained and well-protected health workers and the systems to deliver the services and the tools to save lives. We need more research and development to ensure that tests, treatments, vaccines and other tools remain effective against the Delta variant and other emerging variants.”