Africa’s third COVID-19 wave may be its worst, warns WHO

The surge during the current wave can surpass the peak of the last one by early July

By DTE Staff
Published: Friday 25 June 2021
Africa's third wave may be its worst, warn WHO. Photo: WHO

Africa might be going through its worst wave of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, with sharp rise in cases and more serious infections, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The caseload during the third wave — that has endured since May 3, 2021 in the continent — can surpass the peak of the previous wave by early July, the United Nations health agency noted. The second wave had intensified in the continent at the beginning of 2021. 

“As of 20 June — 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,” WHO said in a press note June 24, 2021.

Flouting of COVID-19 safety norms, relaxed movement restrictions and spread of new variants have fuelled a surge in 12 African countries. The delta variant, which was first isolated in India, was detected in most samples sequenced last month in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where infections have ballooned, according to WHO.

The ‘variant of concern’ has been detected in 14 countries in the continent so far.

The fresh surge is buffeting the continent amid an acute vaccine shortage and only one per cent of population fully vaccinated. WHO noted:

As many as 18 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.

The health agency will monitor variants more closely by reinforcing regional laboratories based in South Africa. It will also send more experts to assess the situation in worst-hit countries like Uganda and Zambia.

“Africa can still blunt the impact of these fast-rising infections, but the window of opportunity is closing,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa. He urged every resident to do their bit to curb the transmission by taking precautions. 

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