Addis Ababa, Jan 14 | After a six-week surge, Africa’s fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic driven primarily by the Omicron variant, is flattening, marking the shortest-lived surge to date in the continent where cumulative cases have now exceeded 10 million, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
Weekly cases having plateaued in the week ending on January 9, Xinhua news agency quoted a statement issued by the WHO’s regional office for Africa as saying on Thursday.
It said that Southern Africa, which saw a huge increase in infections during the pandemic wave, recorded a 14 per cent decline in infections over the past week, with South Africa, where Omicron was first reported, recording a 9 per cent fall in weekly infections.
North and West Africa, however, are witnessing a rise in cases, with North Africa reporting a 121 per cent increase this past week compared with the previous one, warned the WHO.
Across the continent, though, deaths rose by 64 per cent in the seven days ending on January 9 compared with the week before mainly due to infections among people at high-risk.
Nonetheless, deaths in the fourth wave on the African continent are lower than in the previous waves.
So far 30 African countries have detected the Omicron variant, while the Delta variant has been reported in 42 nations.
“Early indications suggest that Africa’s fourth wave has been steep and brief but no less destabilising. The crucial pandemic countermeasure badly needed in Africa still stands, and that is rapidly and significantly increasing Covid-19 vaccinations. The next wave might not be so forgiving,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa.
While the continent appears to be weathering the latest pandemic wave, vaccinations still remain low.
Just around 10 per cent of Africa’s population has been fully vaccinated, noted WHO.