The World Health Organisation (WHO), has raised the alarm that Africa has recorded a 43% week-on-week rise in the number of COVID-19 deaths, even as admission of infected persons into hospitals have equally increased rapidly.
While noting that countries were currently facing shortages in oxygen and intensive care beds, WHO stated that fatalities also increased to 6273 in the week ending on July 11, 2021 from 4384 deaths in the previous week.
In a statement made available to newsmen on Thursday in Abuja, the global health body said Africa was less than 1% shy of the weekly peak reached in January when 6294 deaths were recorded, and added that Namibia, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia accounted for 83% of the new deaths recorded in the past week.
According to WHO Africa’s case fatality rate; the proportion of deaths among confirmed cases, currently stands at 2.6% against the global average of 2.2%, as COVID-19 cases were said to have risen for eight straight weeks, topping six million on July 13, 2021.
The statement reads in part: “Over the past month, Africa recorded an additional 1 million cases. This is the shortest time it’s taken so far to add 1 million cases. Comparatively, it took around three months to move from 4 million to 5 million cases. This COVID-19 surge is the fastest the continent has seen.
“The surge is driven by public fatigue with key health measures and an increased spread of variants.
“To date, the Delta variant, which is currently the most transmissible of all variants, has been detected in 21 African countries, while the Alpha variant is in 35 countries and Beta in 30.”
The statement quoted World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, as saying: “Deaths have climbed steeply for the past five weeks. This is a clear warning sign that hospitals in the most impacted countries are reaching a breaking point.
“Under-resourced health systems in countries are facing dire shortages of the health workers, supplies, equipment and infrastructure needed to provide care to severely ill COVID-19 patients.”
Hospital admissions in around 10 countries have increased rapidly and at least six countries are facing shortages of intensive care unit beds.
On vaccinations, WHO revealed that 52 million people in Africa have this far been vaccinated since the start of the vaccine rollout in March 2021, accounting for just 1.6% of the 3.5 billion people vaccinated worldwide. Only 18 million people in Africa are fully vaccinated, representing 1.5% of the continent’s population compared with over 50% in some high-income countries.