WHO warns of continent-wide third wave of coronavirus in Africa as cases rise by 20%

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WHO warns of continent-wide third wave of coronavirus in Africa as cases rise by 20%

  • Infections increased by 20% in the past two weeks compared to the past two weeks
  • Cases are rising in 14 countries, with 8 countries seeing peaks of over 30%
  • Only 2% of Africans have received the first dose of the shot, compared to 24% worldwide
  • WHO urges rich countries to send jabs to Africa before giving to their children

The World Health Organization today warned of a continent-wide third wave of coronavirus in Africa.

The number of infections has increased by 20 percent in the past two weeks compared to the past two weeks, and the number of cases is rising in 14 countries in the past seven days – eight countries have seen spikes of more than 30 percent.

South Africa alone saw a more than 60 percent increase in new cases last week as the country continued to experience delays in its efforts to roll out the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine.

Infections have increased 20 percent in the past two weeks compared to the past two weeks, with cases rising in 14 countries in the past seven days - eight countries have seen spikes of more than 30 percent

Infections have increased 20 percent in the past two weeks compared to the past two weeks, with cases rising in 14 countries in the past seven days – eight countries have seen spikes of more than 30 percent

Africa has recorded 2.9 percent of the world's cases but accounts for 3.7 percent of deaths.

Africa has recorded 2.9 percent of the world’s cases but accounts for 3.7 percent of deaths.

AFRICAN COUNTRIES REPORT MOST CASES AND DIE RE

CASES:

SOUTH AFRICA: 4.342

TUNISIA: 1.462

EGYPT: 1,040

UGANDA: 738

ZAMBIA: 492

DEATHS:

SOUTH AFRICA: 85

TUNISIA: 55

EGYPT: 47

KENYA: 16

NAMIBI: 12

*Last 7-day average reported

The worst affected are South Africa, with an average of more than 4,300 cases per day, Tunisia with 1,462, Egypt with 1,040, Uganda with 738 and Zambia with 492.

But the numbers belie the true extent of the virus across the continent, which lacks the advanced health infrastructure and testing capacity of the developed world.

Africa has recorded 2.9 percent of the world’s cases but accounts for 3.7 percent of deaths.

The WHO says the problem is exacerbated by a lack of vaccine doses, with nearly 20 African countries having used up more than two-thirds of their shots.

Only two percent of Africans have received at least one dose of a vaccine, compared to 24 percent of people worldwide.

Africa has been hit by a halt in exports of vaccines from India, which would be a significant part of the first phase of the vaccine-sharing scheme (COVAX) rollout.

As a result, many recipients, including health professionals, will not receive their second dose of AstraZeneca injection within the recommended 12-week interval.

“The second dose gap is a huge problem,” WHO senior adviser Bruce Aylward said at a UN briefing on Friday.

“We’re working hard with AstraZeneca and with our schedule and we’re about to reschedule about 16 million doses to try to cover those second doses,” which will ship in late June and early July, he said.

dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO director for Africa, said at a separate virtual summit today: “The threat of a third wave in Africa is real and growing. Our priority is clear – it is critical that we quickly get vaccines into the arms of Africans at high risk of becoming seriously ill and dying from COVID-19.

While many countries outside Africa have now vaccinated their high-priority groups and may even consider vaccinating their children, African countries cannot even pursue second doses for high-risk groups.

“I urge countries that have achieved significant vaccination coverage to release doses and keep the most vulnerable Africans out of critical care.”

An elderly man receives an injection of the vaccine in Hillbrow, Johannesburg on Thursday

An elderly man receives an injection of the vaccine in Hillbrow, Johannesburg on Thursday

A WHO survey of 23 African countries in May found that most have less than one intensive care bed per 100,000 and would succumb to a wave of hospitalizations.

This compares to about 25 ICU beds per 100,000 people in developed countries such as the United States.

‘Many African hospitals and clinics are far from ready to cope with a huge increase in critically ill patients. We need to better equip our hospitals and medical staff to avoid the worst consequences of a runaway wave,” added Dr. Go for it.

“Treatment is the last line of defense against this virus and we cannot let it break,” he said.

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