WHO warns of COVID-19 resurgence in Africa
Harare (New Ziana) – The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday warned of an imminent resurgence of another vicious wave of COVID-19 infections in Africa fuelled by new strains and a slow vaccination campaign.
WHO regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti said Southern Africa was particularly at risk of a new wave because of the onset of the winter season.
“Like the rest of the world, we are observing with great concern the heartbreaking situation in India. Here on the continent there is a potential for a surge in cases,” she said.
“South Africa has reported 2000 cases overnight and around 10 other countries are reporting an upward trend. With the start of winter in Southern Africa we may see further increases in the sub-region.
“Part of what is driving these situations appears to be new variants. As WHO we are supporting countries to strengthen sequencing capacities to detect these mutations.”
In Zimbabwe, for example, a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in some schools prompted authorities to set up Coronavirus rapid response and monitoring teams, as part of wider measures to stop a third wave.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said 126 new infections were detected through the school’s surveillance system during the past week.
Among these, she said, were 77 additional cases at Sacred Heart Primary School, Matabeleland South, 46 at George Silundika High School in Matabeleland North and three at Thornhill High School, Midlands.
A rapid vaccination programme across the continent, Dr Moeti said, would help slow down infections.
“With delays and shortages of vaccine supplies, African countries are slipping further behind the rest of the world in the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, now accounting for only 1 percent of the vaccines administered worldwide, down from 2 percent a few weeks ago,” she said.
“I add my voice in praising the United States’ decision to support a temporary waiver on patent protections for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments which could mark a game changer for Africa, unlocking millions more doses and saving lives.”