The World Health Organisation (WHO) says deaths from COVID-19 in Africa have surged by 40% in the last month, pushing Africa’s death toll towards 100 000 since the first reported case on the continent on February 14 last year.
This comes as Africa battles new, more contagious variants and gears up for its largest-ever vaccination drive.
Over 22 300 deaths were reported in Africa in the last 28 days, compared with nearly 16 000 deaths in the previous 28 days.
The continent is expected to reach 100 000 deaths in the coming days. Thirty-two countries reported a rise in deaths in the last 28 days, while 21 reported flat or falling rates.
Africa’s COVID-19 fatality rate rose to 3.7% during the last 28 days compared to 2.4% in the previous 28 days and is and is now well above the global average.
This spike in mortality comes as Africa’s second wave of cases which began in October 2020 seems to have peaked on 6 January 2021. The second wave spread much faster than the first and is far more lethal.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti says, “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. This grim milestone must refocus everyone on stamping out the virus.”
Below is the full statement by the WHO:
Last month, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention called on member states to strengthen their healthcare systems in preparation for COVID-19 vaccination programme.
The African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team has secured 270-million vaccines for the continent with the first batch of 50 million doses expected between April and June this year: