New COVID-19 variant fueling Africa’s second wave

Jan. 29, 2021

COVID-19 cases and deaths are surging in Africa as new, more contagious variants of the virus spread to additional countries, according to a news release from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Over 175 000 new COVID-19 cases and more than 6,200 deaths were reported in Africa in the last week. Meanwhile, infections rose by 50 percent on the continent between December 29, 2020 and January 25, 2021, when compared with the previous four weeks.

In the past week, there has been a small dip in cases in South Africa, but 22 countries continue to see their case numbers surge. Deaths rose two-fold in the same four-week period, with over 15,000 concentrated in 10 mainly southern and northern African nations.

The variant first identified in South Africa, is predominant and powering record case numbers in South Africa and the sub-region. It has been found in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, the French Indian Ocean region of Mayotte, Zambia and in 24 non-African nations, the WHO said.

The variant that was initially detected in the United Kingdom has been found in The Gambia and Nigeria. Further research is needed to determine whether the new strain causes more severe illness.

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