WORLD Africa's COVID-19 cases surging upward amid low vaccination numbers


Africa's COVID-19 cases surging upward amid low vaccination numbers

By Otiato Opali in Nairobi, Kenya |

17:13, June 21, 2021

After four weeks of consecutive increases in new COVID-19 infections, Africa's COVID-19 cases are surging upward and accelerating fast. New cases continent-wide are up by nearly 30 percent in the past week and deaths are up by 15 percent, according to Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization regional director for Africa.

Health workers chat near an ambulance at the parking lot of the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, amid a nationwide coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, in Pretoria, South Africa, Jan 11, 2021. (Photo: agencies)

In her latest briefing on the pandemic situation in Africa on Friday, Moeti said Africa is in the midst of a full blown third wave, with cases rising by over 20 percent week-on-week in 22 African countries.

"Africa's COVID-19 vaccination rollout is picking up speed with over 5 million doses administered in the past five days, compared to around 3.5 million doses per week for the past three weeks. Almost 12 million people are now fully vaccinated, but this is still less than 1 percent of Africa's population," Moeti said.

As a result of the rise in the number of cases, a number of African countries have re-introduced containment measures while promoting adherence to the preventive measures.

In Kenya, the government imposed restrictions on gatherings and a curfew in the country's western Lake Basin region after a spike in coronavirus infections. The country's ministry of health declared 13 counties a hotspot zone with 60 percent of its new infections and more than double the average positivity rate. Movement in and out of the affected counties is discouraged except for essential and emergency services.

In neighboring Uganda, Yowreri Museveni, the country's president, on Friday introduced sweeping new anti-coronavirus measures, including a ban on all vehicular movement except for essential workers, to help curb a new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the nation.

Uganda suddenly started experiencing a steep surge in COVID-19 infections last month after authorities confirmed they had detected the presence of the coronavirus variant first found in India.

"The country has seen a more aggressive and sustained growth of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are experiencing very high hospitalization rates and deaths for COVID-19 patients among all age categories," Museveni said in a televised address.

In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa introduced new coronavirus restrictions on June 15 to help the country curb the spread of the virus and save lives as it battles a third wave of the pandemic.

In a televised address to the nation, Ramaphosa said due to a rising number of infections, his cabinet has decided to move the country to Alert Level 3, which involves harsher lockdown restrictions, including a nightly curfew that will start at 10 pm and end at 4 am. Ramaphosa said the average number of daily new infections has more than doubled in the past two weeks from about 3,700 to 7,500.

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