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Concern as Africa reports a steady rise in weekly COVID-19 cases

WHO Africa on Thursday reported that the continent had seen a 9 % rise in COVID-19 cases, even as vaccination appeared to stall.

Speaking in a Press Briefing, WHO Africa Regional Director, Dr. Moeti Tshidi, said that the country reported 74,000 new COVID-19 cases over the past week.

74,000 new COVID cases

“In the past week, 74,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported – an increase of 9% over the previous week,” Dr. Moeti said, “We are seeing rising cases in South Africa and Uganda, and cases have increased abruptly in eight countries, including Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria.”

Indeed, on the week ending Jun 2, South Africa reported an average weekly case of 3,382. While it was a slight drop in the last week of May, the trend of infections is going up. Dr. Moeti called for an increase in critical care capacity as the continent went through the surge of new infections.

Critical care concerns

“We have seen how COVID-19 can quickly overwhelm health systems not equipped to manage a surge in cases. So, critical care capacities remain vitally important.” She said.

She reported that the continent had received $123 million worth of medical supplies through the UN Supply Portal so far. These included 3,700 oxygen concentrators, 1,300 patient monitors, and 700 ventilators.

“Investing in critical care capacities in African countries now will pay dividends for the COVID-19 response, along with strengthening health systems to manage major killers like childhood Pneumonia.” Dr. Moeti said.

Vaccination concerns

On vaccination, she said that so far, 31 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been administered across the continent. Of these, only 7 million people (22 % of the vaccinated) have had their two doses.

She said that put the Sub-Sahara Africa vaccination rate at one dose per 100 people, way lower than the worldwide average of 23 per 100 people.

Dr. Moeti called the increasing gap between COVID-19 vaccinations globally and Africa as concerning. She cautioned against vaccine inequity and called on Member States of the World Health Assembly (WHA74) to address it.

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