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WHO Alerts African Countries In Spread Of New Variants

The rampant spread of more contagious variants pushes the threat of COVID-19 to Africa up to a whole new level

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Justina Asishana
Justina Asishana
Justina Asishana is a Nigerian from Edo state. She is a data and investigative journalist who also fact-checks. She covers health, agriculture, education and governance

CONGO. Brazzaville: The  World Health Organization (WHO) have alerted African countries on the new and faster spreading variants which are fueling the third wave in the continent.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the COVID-19 cases in Africa have increased in the last six weeks.

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Dr Moeti spoke during a virtual press conference on Thursday facilitated by APO Group.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa was joined by Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe, Director-General, National Institute for Biomedical Research, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Technical Secretary of the Multisectoral Committee for the Response to COVID-19 in DRC and Professor Pontiano Kaleebu, Director MRC/Virus Research Institute (UVRI) and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit.

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“Cases have increased in Africa for six weeks running and rose by 25 per cent week-on-week to almost 202,000 in the week ending on June 27th, reaching nine-tenths of the continent’s previous record of 224,000 new cases. Deaths rose by 15 per cent across 38 African countries to nearly 3000 in the same period”, Moeti said.

 Moeti stated that the speed and scale of Africa’s third wave of the COVID-19 has not been seen before expressing concern that more transmissions of the COVID-19 virus would mean more serious illness and more deaths.

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“The speed and scale of Africa’s third wave are like nothing we’ve seen before. The rampant spread of more contagious variants pushes the threat to Africa up to a whole new level. 

“More transmission means more serious illness and more deaths, so everyone must act now and boost prevention measures to stop an emergency becoming a tragedy,”  the Regional Director for Africa stated.

The Variants

The WHO said that new and fast-spreading variants are rampant in Africa which has increased the number of cases in the Continent.

The top variant is the Delta Variant which has been reported in 16 countries, including nine countries with surging cases.

Read Also: COVAX Calls For Equal Recognition Of Vaccines

The Delta Variant is spreading to several countries and has been classified as the most contagious variant.

According to WHO, the Delta Variant has an estimated 30%–60% more transmissible than other variants and it is dominant in South Africa.

According to the latest country reports, the Delta variant was detected in 97 per cent of samples sequenced in Uganda and 79 per cent of samples sequenced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Alpha variant has been reported in 32 countries while the Beta variant have been reported 27 countries.

According to reports, the Alpha variant has been detected in most countries in north, west and central Africa while the Beta variant is more widespread in southern Africa. 

COVID-19 Vaccination

In Africa, only 15 million people which is about 1.2 per cent of the African population have been fully vaccinated.

The Continent is facing challenges in the shipments of vaccines because despite eight vaccines are safe and effective and have received WHO emergency use listing, the shipments to Africa have dried up.  

“While supply challenges grind on, dose sharing can help plug the gap. We are grateful for the pledges made by our international partners, but we need urgent action on allocations. Africa must not be left languishing in the throes of its worst wave yet,” said Moeti.

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