Africa's Covid 3rd wave at crossroads: WHO

| | Nairobi
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Africa's Covid 3rd wave at crossroads: WHO

Friday, 23 July 2021 | IANS | Nairobi

Africa's Covid 3rd wave at crossroads: WHO

The third wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Africa is at a crossroads, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said.

As the rate of new cases fell by less than 2 per cent over the past week, driven by a sharp drop in South Africa, 21 countries are experiencing a resurgence, three more than last week, Xinhua news agency quoted Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's Regional Director for Africa, as saying at an online briefing on Thursday.

"Let's be under no illusions, Africa's third wave is absolutely not over. The small step forward offers hope and inspiration but must not mask the big picture for Africa," she noted.

Africa continues to lag behind in terms of Covid-19 vaccination, Moeti said, explaining that only about 1.5 per cent of the continent's population are fully inoculated so far.

"African countries must go all out and speed up their vaccine rollouts by 5 to 6 times if they are to get all these doses into arms and fully vaccinate the most vulnerable 10 per cent of their people by the end of September," she said.

"Vaccines are key to saving lives and blunting the pandemic, but we must remain focused on controlling the disease until vaccination coverage is increased."

Moeti noted that a gradual easing of vaccine supply constraints in the continent will boost efforts to tame a third wave of the pandemic fuelled by variants and easing of containment measures.

She said that about 60 million doses are set to arrive in Africa in the coming weeks, including donations from several countries and purchases through the COVAX facility.

Moeti said that over half a billion doses procured through the COVAX facility are expected to arrive in Africa this year, adding that the continent must vaccinate 21 million doses every week in order to reach the 10 per cent target by September.

The WHO official further said that African countries should prioritise upgrading cold chain infrastructure, training of health workers and community education in order to boost vaccine uptake.

She said the world body has partnered with the continent's ministries of health to prepare adequately for a seamless roll-out of the second phase of Covid-19 vaccination.

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