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COVID-19: New variants fuelling Africa’s surging third wave, says WHO

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PHOTO: AFP


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As COVID-19 case numbers in Africa climb faster than all earlier peaks, new and faster spreading variants are fuelling the continent’s surging third wave, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

The global health body noted that COVID-19 cases have increased in Africa for six weeks running and rose by 25 per cent week-on-week to almost 202, 000 in the week ending on June 27th, reaching nine tenths of the continent’s previous record of 224, 000 new cases. Deaths rose by 15 per cent across 38 African countries to nearly 3,000 in the same period.

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Speaking during a virtual press conference facilitated by APO Group, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, observed that with case numbers doubling in Africa every three weeks, the Delta variant is spreading to a growing number of countries, adding that the variant has been reported in 16 countries, including nine with surging cases.

Moeti noted that in Uganda, 66 per cent of severe illness in people younger than 45 years is attributed to the Delta variant, stressing that with the rising case numbers and hospitalisations across the continent, WHO estimates that oxygen demand in Africa is now 50 per cent greater than the first wave peak a year ago.

She further said that Alpha and Beta variants have been reported in 32 and 27 countries, respectively, and that the variant has been detected in most countries in North, West and Central Africa.

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Moeti observed that although eight vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective and have received WHO’s emergency use listing, shipments to Africa have dried up as only 15 million people, just 1.2 per cent of the African population were fully vaccinated.

In related development, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Persons Living With Disabilities (NCPLWD), James David Lau, has disclosed that 50, 000 Persons Living With Disabilities (PLWDs) would benefit from a COVID-19 intervention.

Speaking at a press conference in the commission’s office in Abuja, yesterday, he said that the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Umar Farouq approved the project.

He said they were expected to collate information from PLWDs, adding that members who don’t have bank accounts should open one immediately as the commission wants to see that the beneficiaries of the programme come from rural communities.

He said the commission was totally committed to improving the quality of lives of PLWDs, adding that they were working in different areas to see what they could do to achieve this.

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