You are here: Home » Current Affairs » Coronavirus » News
Business Standard

WHO says Covid19 fatalities in Africa surged amid new virus strains

WHO Regional Director for Africa, said the death toll from the pandemic increased by 40 percent in January, fuelled by a second wave of infections

World Health Organisation | Coronavirus | Coronavirus Vaccine

ANI  |  Others 

Coronavirus vaccine
A healthcare worker receives a dose of the Russian Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine at a hospital in La Plata, Argentina | Photo: Bloomberg

The number of COVID-19 related deaths in Africa has spiked as the continent grapples with local transmission of highly contagious strains of the virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said the death toll from the pandemic increased by 40 percent in January, fuelled by a second wave of infections and new variants that have overwhelmed the continent's public health systems.

"The increasing deaths from COVID-19 we are seeing are tragic, but are also disturbing warning signs that health workers and health systems in Africa are dangerously overstretched," Moeti said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

She said that the death toll linked to the pandemic is expected to hit 100,000 by Sunday as the continent marks one year since the first positive case was confirmed in Egypt.

"This grim milestone must refocus everyone on stamping out the virus," said Moeti, adding that flattening the curve in Africa will take longer amid low vaccination rates combined with the emergence of new variants.

Statistics from WHO indicate that over 22,300 COVID-19 deaths were reported in Africa in the last 28 days, compared to nearly 16,000 in the previous 28 days.

The continent's fatality rate rose to 3.7 percent during the last 28 days compared to 2.4 percent in the previous 28 days and has so far surpassed the global average.

Moeti said that 32 African countries reported a rise in deaths in the last 28 days while 21 reported flat or declining rates, adding that the second wave that began in October 2020 and peaked in January is behind the spike in mortality.

She said that a survey from 21 countries conducted by WHO indicates that 66 percent reported inadequate critical care capacity while 24 percent reported burnout among health workers, hence worsening the risk of death from COVID-19.

Moeti said that 15 countries reported that oxygen production that is crucial to avert death of severely ill COVID-19 patients, was insufficient as they battled the second wave.

She said that a new variant that was first reported in South Africa has been detected in eight African countries, adding that speedy roll-out of vaccines is key to tame infection and fatalities.

"While a vaccine that protects against all forms of COVID-19 is our biggest hope, preventing severe cases which overwhelm hospitals is crucial," said Moeti.

"If cases remain mostly mild and moderate and do not require critical care, then we can save many lives," she added.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Fri, February 12 2021. 06:50 IST