Africa sees sharpest decline in Covid-19 cases
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CAPE TOWN: Weekly Covid-19 cases in Africa fell by more than 20% – the sharpest seven-day decline in two months – as the third wave of the pandemic tapers off, according to World Health Organization (WHO) regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti.
Speaking during a virtual press conference, Moeti said although the continent recorded more than 165 000 cases in the week ending September 5 – 23% lower than the week before – weekly cases were still higher than those recorded at the peak of the first wave.
“While Covid-19 cases have declined appreciably, the downward trend is frustratingly slow due to the lingering effects of the more infectious Delta variant. We are spearheading critical work and supporting countries in scaling up pathogen surveillance through genome sequencing to detect and respond effectively to Covid-19 variants,” said Moeti.
The more contagious Delta variant that partly fuelled the third wave has been dominant in several countries that experienced a Covid-19 surge. In southern Africa, for instance, where more than 4 000 Covid-19 genome sequencing data was produced in August, the Delta variant was detected in over 70% of samples from Botswana, Malawi and South Africa, and in over 90% from Zimbabwe.
As the continent’s third Covid-19 pandemic wave eases off, Moeti said that vaccine shipments to the continent continue to grow, with around 5.5 million doses received through Covax in the first week of September.
So far only around 3% of the continent’s population is fully vaccinated.
“To ultimately tip the scales against this pandemic, our best efforts to reduce transmission through public health measures must be met by a significant step-up in vaccine supplies and vaccinations,” Moeti said.
African News Agency (ANA)