January 19, 2021

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AfricaTopForum – News Around Africa

Africa braces for second infection wave

3 min read

Our Reporter

 

AFRICA has a plan against a second wave of coronavirus approaches, according to the continent’s top health official, Dr. John Nkengasong.

In recent weeks, the continent has started to distribute 2.7 million rapid antigen tests. By mid-2021, health officials hope to vaccinate 60 per cent of the continent’s population with one of the several promising new vaccines.

Dr. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said it’s up to the continent’s leaders to try to make that happen.

“That will also require that we mobilise up to about $10 to $12 billion, including the cost of buying the vaccines and the cost of delivering the vaccines,” he told reporters yesterday by teleconference.

“So, that is the 60 per cent mark that we really want to achieve. And I just really want everyone on this platform and our partners to understand that as a continent that is aspiration and our goal.”

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The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent has reached 2,106,931, the Africa CDC said on Thursday.

It said in a statement that the death toll related to the pandemic stood at 50,628 as of yesterday afternoon.

A total of 1,781,744 people infected with COVID-19 have recovered across the continent so far, according to the agency.

The most COVID-19 affected African countries in terms of the number of positive cases include South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, and Ethiopia, figures from the Africa CDC showed.

The southern Africa region is the most COVID-19 affected region both in terms of the number of confirmed positive cases as well as the number of deaths, it was noted.

The northern Africa region is the second most COVID-19 affected African region, according to the Africa CDC.

South Africa currently has the most COVID-19 cases, which hit 775,502.

Nkengasong added that experts are working to bring more clinical trials to the continent. But, he stressed, as COVID-19 numbers rise in some countries – notably, South Africa, Kenya and Algeria – the continent’s health facilities appear to be weathering the onslaught.

“We are not seeing hospitals being overwhelmed with COVID patients,” he said. “That is clearly what the situation is. We were very encouraged that during the first wave, we didn’t see that kind of overwhelming, which we were very worried and concerned with.

“That doesn’t tell us that the second wave will not happen. It only tells us that we have to prepare, and prepare using the three T’s – which is the tests, the tracing and the treatment.”

As the continent approaches end-of-year holidays, Nkengasong advised: “Do not relent in wearing masks. One message that is emerging across the visits we are conducting across the continent is that people are not masking enough. And in some settings, absolutely it seems like they are not masking at all. And that is extremely dangerous.

“My worry and fear is that the sacrifices and gains that were made since the beginning of this year … those gains that were made in terms of bringing the pandemic down to where we were in October could be completely wiped out, if we relent at this point.”