Threat of a third wave in Africa is real and rising - WHO

By Rudolph Nkgadima Time of article published Jun 3, 2021

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CAPE TOWN – World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidio Moeti, says the threat of a third wave in Africa is real and rising.

In the last two weeks, Africa has recorded a 20% increase in Covid cases. In 14 countries the pandemic is trending upwards and in the past week alone, eight countries witnessed an abrupt rise of over 30% in cases.

South Africa is reporting a sustained increase in cases, while Uganda saw a 131% week-on-week rise last week, with infection clusters in schools, rising cases among health workers and isolation centres and intensive care units filling up. Angola and Namibia are also experiencing a resurgence in cases.

Moeti, who spoke during a virtual press conference, said it was crucial vaccines got into the arms of Africans at high risk of falling seriously ill and dying of Covid-19, as soon as possible.

“While many countries outside Africa have now vaccinated their high-priority groups and are able to even consider vaccinating their children, African countries are unable to even follow up with second doses for high-risk groups. I am urging countries that have reached a significant vaccination coverage to release doses and keep the most vulnerable Africans out of critical care,” she said.

According to a WHO survey carried out in May, it was found that in many African countries, crucial equipment and the health workforce required to handle severely ill Covid-19 patients, fall far short of needs.

Of the 23 countries responding to the survey, most have fewer than one intensive care unit bed per 100 000 population and will require an increase of between 2 500% and 3 000% to meet these needs during a surge. Among the countries providing information on ventilators, only a third of their intensive care unit beds were equipped with mechanical ventilators.

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