According to WHO data, newly reported cases fell by 20% in the week from 10 to 16 January, while deaths dropped by 8%. According to officials, this decline in cases pushes the continent past its shortest upsurge yet that lasted 56 days
reported a drop in new cases of the Omicron Variant. The revelation was made during the World
Health Organization African Region COVID-19 press conference on Thursday.
According to WHO data,
newly reported cases fell by 20% in the week from 10 to 16 January, while
deaths dropped by 8%. According to officials, this decline in cases pushes the
continent past its shortest upsurge yet that lasted 56 days.
countries like South Africa. where Omicron was first sequenced, and which has
accounted for the bulk of cases and deaths has recorded a downward trend over
the past four weeks. Only North Africa reported an increase in cases over the
past week, with a 55% spike.
across the rest of Africa, where, as of 16 January, there were 10.4 million
cumulative COVID-19 cases and more than 233 000 deaths.
Despite the fall in
cases reported, the UN agency warns that the decrease in deaths is still small
and further monitoring is needed, but if the trend continues the surge in
deaths will also be the shortest reported so far during this pandemic. In
countries like Uganda, while new cases are decreasing, the number of deaths is
on the rise.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the
World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa says that
countries need to be vigilant because the fall in cases does not mean the
pandemic is no more.
acceleration, peak, and decline of this wave have been unmatched, its impact has
been moderate, and Africa is emerging with fewer deaths and lower
hospitalizations. But the continent has yet to turn the tables on this pandemic.
So long as the virus continues to circulate, further pandemic waves are
inevitable. Africa must not only broaden vaccinations but also gain increased
and equitable access to critical COVID-19 therapeutics to save lives and
effectively combat this pandemic,” Dr Moeti said.
The African region’s
current case fatality ratio remains the highest in the world, although it has
been lowered in the last two waves. While improvements have been made in the
availability of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds for COVID-19 patients from 0.8
per 100 000 populations to 2.0 per 100 000, the numbers are still far from
sufficient to meet the demands of the pandemic.
In terms of
medication, currently, patients with severe forms of the virus are being
treated with corticosteroids and medical oxygen. Corticosteroids are largely
available and relatively affordable, but the availability of medical oxygen
remains a challenge across the continent.
In addition, African countries face major impediments in accessing other
COVID-19 treatments due to limited availability and high cost. Last week, WHO
recommended two new drugs, a rheumatoid arthritis drug called baricitinib and a
monoclonal antibody called sotrovimab, raising the number of WHO-approved
COVID-19 therapeutics to 11. WHO is reviewing the data on two oral
antivirals—paxlovid from Pfizer and molnupiravir from Merck—which the
manufacturers report show promise in reducing the risk of hospitalization in
Dr. Moeti says with such
advancements in treatments from the pandemic, Africa should not lie behind with
supplies since it has one of the highest fatality rates in the world.
“The deep inequity that
left Africa at the back of the queue for vaccines must not be repeated with
life-saving treatments. Universal access to diagnostics, vaccines, and
therapeutics will pave the shortest path to the end of this pandemic and no
region of the world should be left on the fringes of this endeavor,” said Dr