The World Health Organisation (WHO), yesterday, alerted that COVID-19 cases and deaths in Africa surged by over 44 per cent and 20 per cent respectively, in one week, as the continent’s third wave gains pace and nears the first wave peak of more than 120,000 weekly cases recorded in July 2020.
COVID-19 cases rose to over 116,500 in the week ending June 13, up from the previous week’s nearly 91,000 cases, following one month of progressively rising case numbers that pushed the continent over the five million case mark. In 22 African countries—nearly 40 per cent of Africa’s 54 nations—cases rose by over 20 per cent in the week ending on June 13. During the same week, deaths rose by nearly 15 per cent to over 2,200 in 36 countries.
New cases recorded weekly in Africa have now exceeded half of the second wave peak of more than 224,000 weekly cases in early January 2021. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia and Uganda have reported their highest number of new weekly cases since the pandemic began.
According to WHO regional overviews Epidemiological week June 7-13, 2021 for African Region, “The African Region reported over 95,000 new cases and over 1,400 new deaths, a 44 per cent and a 20 per cent increase respectively compared to the previous week. The region reported a marked increase in weekly case incidence for the third consecutive week, with the largest increases in countries in the Southern, Eastern and Northern parts of Africa.
“The highest numbers of new cases were reported from South Africa (47,934 new cases; 80.8 new cases per 100,000 population; a 48 per cent increase), Zambia (10,792 new cases; 58.7 new cases per 100,000; a 125 per cent increase), and Uganda (8574 new cases; 18.7 new cases per 100 000; a 49 per cent increase).
“The highest numbers of new deaths were reported from South Africa (724 new deaths; 1.2 new deaths per 100,000 population; a 28 per cent increase), Kenya (132 new deaths; 0.2 new deaths per 100 000; a seven per cent increase) and Namibia (88 new deaths; 3.5 new deaths per 100 000; a one per cent increase).”
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said: “Africa is in the midst of a full-blown third wave. The sobering trajectory of surging cases should rouse everyone into urgent action. We have seen in India and elsewhere just how quickly COVID-19 can rebound and overwhelm health systems. So, public health measures must be scaled up fast to find, test, isolate and care for patients and to quickly trace their contacts.”