Covid-19: Third wave 'raging at full force' as Africa reaches record peak in deaths - WHO

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Health workers at a hospital in quarantined Kayravan province of Tunis, Tunisia.
Health workers at a hospital in quarantined Kayravan province of Tunis, Tunisia.
Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • Africa reached a new peak in the number of Covid-19 fatalities this week, said the World Health Organisation.
  • It shows no sign of decreasing, with more cases recorded than in earlier peaks.
  • More than half of African countries are experiencing a third wave.

The first week of August saw more than 6 400 deaths from Covid-19 recorded in Africa - a grim record for the continent.

"It's a sad day for Africa. Our hearts go out to everyone who has lost friends and loved ones," said Dr Phionah Atuhebwe, the World Health Organisation's new vaccines introduction officer for Africa.

After a slight dip in cases last week, Covid-19 cases are surging again, rising by 19% to nearly 278 000 this last week.

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"The third wave of the pandemic in Africa is still raging at full force," Atuhebwe said during a weekly press briefing.

The peak shows no sign of decreasing just yet.

The continent was still on the crest of a third wave and still recording more cases than in any earlier peak, she added.

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Thirty-two countries were in a third wave, with 25 of them in a "very severe" third wave, said Dr John Nkengasong, the director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

Three countries - Algeria, Kenya, and Tunisia - are experiencing a fourth wave, Nkengasong said during a briefing also held on Thursday. 

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The CDC recorded 273 00 new cases in the last week.

Deaths

Southern Africa still has the highest number of new cases, nearly half of all new cases; still, there is a decrease in the number of deaths in the region.

South Africa accounts for a third of all cases in total.

While the average case fatality is 2.4%, Egypt, Somalia and Sudan showed a higher than average fatality rate - at 5%.

READ | Covid-19: African Union begins shipping J&J vaccines to countries

The surge is driven by variants of the coronavirus as millions of Africans continue to wait for vaccines.

The Delta variant is now present in 29 Africa countries, while the Alpha variant - first identified in the UK - is present in 39 countries. The Beta variant, first sequenced in South Africa, has been detected in 35 countries.

While vaccine shipments to Africa have increased, only a fraction of the continent's population has been inoculated. July saw 12 million vaccines arrive, more than the combined number of doses received in April, May and June.

- The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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