By Hassan Zaggi
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised the alarm over the high speed and scale at which Africa’s COVID-19 third wave is spreading.
It further regretted that the rampant spread of more contagious variants is becoming a threat to Africa.
The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, stated this during a virtual press conference Wednesday, facilitated by APO Group.
“The speed and scale of Africa’s third wave is like nothing we’ve seen before. The rampant spread of more contagious variants pushes the threat to Africa up to a whole new level. More transmission means more serious illness and more deaths, so everyone must act now and boost prevention measures to stop an emergency becoming a tragedy,” Dr. Moeti said
Cases of COVID-19 have increased in Africa for six weeks running and rose by 25% week-on-week to almost 202 000 in the week ending on June 27th, reaching nine tenths of the continent’s previous record of 224 000 new cases. Deaths rose by 15% across 38 African countries to nearly 3000 in the same period.
With case numbers doubling in Africa every three weeks, the Delta variant is spreading to a growing number of countries.
It has been reported in 16 countries, including nine with surging cases. It is the most contagious variant yet, an estimated 30%–60% more transmissible than other variants.
It is in three of the five countries reporting the highest caseloads for the week ending 27 June. And it is dominant in South Africa, which accounted for more than half of Africa’s cases in the same period. According to the latest country reports, the Delta variant was detected in 97% of samples sequenced in Uganda and 79% of samples sequenced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In Uganda, 66% of severe illness in people younger than 45 years is attributed to the Delta variant. With rising case numbers and hospitalizations across the continent, WHO estimates that oxygen demand in Africa is now 50% greater than for the first wave peak one year ago.
The Alpha and Beta variants have been reported in 32 and 27 countries respectively. The Alpha variant has been detected in most countries in north, west and central Africa. The Beta variant is more widespread in southern Africa. Both of these variants are more transmissible than the original virus.