Risk of COVID-19 surge threatens Africa’s healthcare facilities

June 4, 2021

As the risk of a surge in COVID-19 cases increases, vaccine shipments to the continent grind to a near halt, according to a news release from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The threat of a third wave of the pandemic also threatens to overwhelm the continent’s healthcare facilities, where care of critically ill COVID-19 patients is lagging behind other parts of the world. While Africa has 2.9% of cases globally, it accounts for 3.7% of deaths, the WHO said.

“Weak observance of preventive measures, increased population movement and interaction as well as well as the arrival of winter in southern Africa have heightened the risk of COVID-19 resurgence in many countries,” the WHO said.

In the last two weeks, the WHO said Africa recorded a 20% increase in cases compared with the previous two-week period. The pandemic is trending upwards in 14 countries and in the past week alone, eight countries witnessed an abrupt rise of over 30% in cases. South Africa is reporting a sustained increase in cases, while Uganda saw a 131% week-on-week rise last week. Angola and Namibia are also experiencing a resurgence in cases.

Altogether, 48.6 million doses have been received and 31.4 million doses have been administered in 50 countries in Africa, where around 2% of the population have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while globally 24% have been vaccinated.

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