COVID-19 in Africa: Nearly half the nations going through deadlier 3rd wave

Daily deaths in Namibia increased 12 times compared to the peak during 2nd wave

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Friday 16 July 2021
COVID-19 in Africa: More than half the countries going through deadlier 3rd wave

As many as 23 African countries have experienced the third wave of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic as of July 13, 2021, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These include six countries in Southern Africa: Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

In North Africa, Algeria, Egypt and Libya are experiencing the third COVID-19 wave. Tunisia is experiencing its fourth wave of the pandemic, showed World Bank data. 

More daily infections under third wave

New cases recorded in Africa every day during the third wave are higher than that reported during the peak of the second wave.

On an average, 33 people were infected per million population every day during the ongoing surge — 18 per cent higher than the daily rate last peak. 

Daily addition of cases between February 15, 2020 and July 13, 2021

Daily infections grew to over 40,600 new infections on July 11, 2021 from over 32,000 around mid-January, 2021.  

Cases spiked in 26 countries 

As many as 287,939 new COVID-19 cases have been reported between July 5-11 this year — a 13 per cent increase in a week.

The case surge was recorded in 26 countries the same week. Of them, seven were in the South African region: Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

At least six of every 10 new infections during the period were from Southern Africa.

The region, thus, remains the COVID-19 hotspot. Weekly addition of cases jumped 1,602 per cent during the period in Eswatini.

As much as 28 per cent of the new COVID-19 cases reported that week was from Northern Africa. This was followed by Eastern (5 per cent), Western (2 per cent) and Central (1 per cent) regions of the continent

Six countries recorded 78 per cent of all the cases in the continent during the period: South Africa (46 per cent), Tunisia (19 per cent), Zimbabwe (5 per cent), Zambia (4 per cent) and Libya (4 per cent).

Daily deaths close to second wave peak

On July 5, 2021, the weekly deaths due to COVID-19 had surpassed the additions during the peak of the previous wave.

Through July 5, 2021, 5,013 COVID-19 deaths were reported in a week, according to World Bank. As of January 18 this year when the second wave was most intense, 4,997 weekly deaths were reported in the continent. 

The number of daily deaths during the ongoing wave is higher than that reported during the peak of the second wave.

Source: World Health Organization

Over 1,500 deaths were reported on July 5, 2021. At the peak of the second COVID-19 wave. On January 18, when the second wave was at its peak,  over 1,200 deaths were reported.

Daily deaths in Namibia grew 12 times the ongoing wave compared to the last surge. On July 14, 2021, 71 people died of COVID-19 while six people died on January 11, 2021 at the height of the second wave. 

In Tunisia, which is going through its fourth wave of the pandemic, daily deaths have nearly doubled since the last peak. 

This worrying trend of rising infections and deaths is similar to that projected by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in its modelling study released July 1, 2021.

Around 39 countries in the region have reported the presence of variants of concern: alpha (32 countries), beta (29 countries) and delta in 15 countries, 

During the second wave, at least 50 countries had community transmission of the virus. Now, as the continent experiences the third wave, 53 of the 55 African nations have confirmed community transmission of the COVID-19 virus as of July 13, 2021.

Just 1.4 per cent of the population in Africa is vaccinated. The caseload in the continent was over 6 million, with 1,54,602 deaths, according to Our World in Data and Africa CDC. 

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.