The third wave of Covid-19 infections sweeping across Africa has led to a million cases in the past month alone, pushing the continent’s caseload to six million, data from WHO shows.
The resurgence, which is attributable to the highly transmissible Delta variant, has seen Covid curbs in a number of countries snap back.
“Africa’s third wave continues its destructive pathway, pushing past yet another grim milestone,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s director for the continent.
At the same time, infections and hospital admissions have also risen as countries face shortages of oxygen and intensive-care beds.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said Africa’s case fatality rate among confirmed cases currently stands at 2.6 per cent against the global average of 2.2 per cent.
“Deaths have climbed steeply for the past five weeks. This is a clear warning sign that hospitals in the most impacted countries are reaching a breaking point,” Dr Moeti.
Data also show COVID-19 cases in the African continent have risen for eight straight weeks, topping 6 million on July 13.
The surge, it said, has been driven by public fatigue with key health measures aimed at curbing the spread, and an increased spread of the Delta strain.
WHO said Africa has seen one of the world’s fastest surge in cases with an additional 1 million over the past month.
“This is the shortest time it has taken so far to add 1 million cases. Comparatively, it took around three months to move from four million to five million cases in mid-June,” the statement noted.
Africa was forced to pause its vaccine roll-out due to supply challenges and only 53 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered so far, Dr Moeti said, and only 18 million Africans out of the continent’s 1.3 billion population are do far fully vaccinated.
“This clearly needs to urgently increase,” she said, adding that deliveries from the US, Europe and the global vaccine sharing COVAX scheme are expected to help ramp up vaccine roll out in the coming weeks.
Reported deaths in the continent reached 154,550 while 5,280,285 people had recovered as of July 15.
Namibia, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia accounted for the bulk of the fatalities, WHO said.
Other most-affected countries reporting huge cases are Morocco (547,273), Tunisia (518,609), Egypt (283,409), Ethiopia (277,318), Libya (212,013) and Kenya (191,020).
Kenya’s positivity rate stands at 11.1 per cent after 837 people tested positive for COVID-19 from a sample size of 7,545 tested in the last 24 hours.
The total confirmed infections are now at 191,020 and cumulative tests so far conducted are 2,036,472.
Nine patients succumbed to the virus, all of them being late deaths reported after conducting facility record audits in April, May June and July 2021. This pushes the cumulative fatalities to 3,746.