Africa’s fourth COVID wave flattens out after six-week surge

After a six-week surge, Africa’s fourth pandemic wave, which has been mainly driven by the Omicron variant, is flattening, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

WHO said that this marked the shortest surge since the pandemic began on the continent, where total cases have exceeded 10.2 million.

Recorded cases of infection show that the weekly number plateaued in the seven days leading up to 9 January, from the previous week.

“Early indications suggest that Africa’s fourth wave has been steep and brief but no less destabilizing”, said WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti.

Omicron on record

In countries experiencing a surge in cases, the fast-spreading Omicron variant has become the dominant type.

While it took around four weeks for the Delta variant to surpass the previously dominant Beta, Omicron outpaced Delta within two weeks in the worst-hit African countries, according to WHO.

Southern Africa saw a huge increase in infections during the pandemic wave but recorded a 14 percent decline in confirmed cases over the past week.

And South Africa, where Omicron was first reported, saw a nine percent fall in weekly infections.

While East and Central Africa regions also experienced falling numbers of cases, North and West Africa are seeing a rise in infections, with North Africa reporting a 121 percent increase over the past week, compared with the previous seven days.

“The crucial pandemic countermeasure badly needed in Africa still stands, and that is rapidly and significantly increasing COVID-19 vaccinations”, said the senior WHO official. “The next wave might not be so forgiving”.

Source: UN News