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Africa has recently survived its most devastating week of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the worst is yet to come as the third wave gathers pace on the continent, the World Health Organisation (WHO) disclosed this on Thursday.
“Africa has just marked the continent’s most dire pandemic week ever. But the worst is yet to come as the fast-moving third wave continues to gain speed and new ground,” said the Regional Director of WHO for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti.
Cases are multiplying every 18 days, compared with every 21 days only a week ago, she made this known during a virtual press briefing, stating that “the end to this precipitous rise is still weeks away.”
COVID-19 cases have been increasing in Africa since the beginning of the third wave on the continent on May 3. During the week ending July 4, more than 251,000 new COVID-19 cases were recorded on the continent, a 20% rise over the previous week and a 12% jump from the previous January peak.
Sixteen African nations are currently seeing a resurgence of the virus, with the more contagious Delta strain detected in 10 of them.
South Africa is the worst-hit nation in Africa, with new daily infections hitting record highs of 26,000 cases over the weekend, fuelled by the Delta variant.
Vaccination rates remain slow, with only 16 million people, 2% of the African population, fully vaccinated.
However, WHO Regional Director disclosed that there was some room for optimism because vaccine deliveries were picking up after crashing to a near halt in May and early June.
In the past two weeks, more than 1.6 million doses were delivered to Africa through the Covax scheme, which was established to guarantee impartial distribution of vaccines to poorer nations.
A United States shipment of 20 million Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer-BioNTech is due to arrive soon, to be distributed to 49 nations. Donations from Norway and Sweden are expected to follow.
“Our appeals for ‘we first and not me first’ are finally turning talk into action. But the deliveries can’t come soon enough because the third wave looms large across the continent,” Moeti said.
Africa has so far received 66 million doses and has administered 50 million of them.
Moeti called on governments to extend vaccination sites and take other measures to take advantage of the vaccine deliveries when they come.
In accordance with the latest figures, Africa has formally registered 5,730,638 cases and 147,125 deaths from COVID-19.
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