Africa on 'destructive pathway' due to Delta variant, says WHO amid record surge

  • WHO’s regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, told a press briefing that a 43% rise in Covid-19 deaths week-on-week has been recorded in the continent.
This week, Africa reached the sombre milestone of six million Covid-19 cases amid a low vaccination rate.(AP / File)
This week, Africa reached the sombre milestone of six million Covid-19 cases amid a low vaccination rate.(AP / File)
Published on Jul 15, 2021 04:59 PM IST
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By | Written by Kunal Gaurav, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

African is witnessing an unprecedented resurgence of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases as the third wave of the pandemic continues its “destructive pathway” in the continent, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday. WHO’s regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, told a press briefing that the highly contagious Delta variant has been detected in 21 African countries, with a 43% rise in Covid-19 deaths week-on-week in the continent.

Moeti said that African has recorded an additional one million cases of coronavirus over the past month, the shortest time it has taken so far to add one million cases. The top WHO official said that the fresh surge, driven by the Delta variant, is brutally costing lives and the already stretched health systems are now buckling under the pressure of Covid-19.

“We’ve seen hospital admissions in around 10 countries increase rapidly and at least five countries, including SouthAfrica, Namibia and Zambia, are facing shortages of ICU beds,” she said, adding that oxygen production remains the “number one priority for African countries.”

This week, Africa reached the sombre milestone of six million Covid-19 cases amid a low vaccination rate. As per Our World in Data, African has administered at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to less than 3% of its total population, and the presence of the Delta variant could become a “toxic mixture” as warned by the WHO emergencies programme head Michael Ryan.

“Countries opening up who have very low levels of vaccination coverage in the presence of variants is a real toxic mixture for your hospitals filling up again. And this is something that must absolutely be avoided,” Ryan told a news conference in Geneva last week.

African countries are heavily dependent on COVAX, a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines, for vaccinating their citizens.

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