Coronavirus cases ‘drop significantly’ in Africa, says WHO

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 21 2022 04:23 AM

Ivory Coast fans wearing protective masks arrive to watch the Africa Cup of Nations soccer match between Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast on a big screen in Abidjan, Ivory Coast January 12, 2022. Picture taken January 12, 2022. Luc Gnago, Reuters
Ivory Coast fans wearing protective masks arrive to watch the Africa Cup of Nations soccer match between Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast on a big screen in Abidjan, Ivory Coast January 12, 2022. Picture taken January 12, 2022. Luc Gnago, Reuters

COVID-19 cases have plummeted in Africa and deaths are declining for the first time since the omicron-dominated 4th wave of the virus reached its peak, the UN said Thursday.

Describing the 56-day flareup as Africa's "shortest upsurge yet," the World Health Organization's African regional office said newly reported cases fell by 20% in the week to Sunday, while notified deaths dropped by 8%.

In a statement issued after a weekly press briefing, the office also said South Africa, where the omicron variant was first detected, had seen cases trending downward over the past 4 weeks.

Only North Africa reported an increase in cases last week, "with a 55% spike", it said.

Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's regional director for Africa, warned, however: "The continent has yet to turn the tables on this pandemic. So long as the virus continues to circulate, further pandemic waves are inevitable."

Moeti said the world's poorest continent should "not only broaden vaccinations, but also gain increased and equitable access to critical COVID-19 therapeutics to save lives and effectively combat this pandemic.”

Only 10% of the African population are fully vaccinated, according to the WHO.

The continent, with a population of 1.2 billion, has been relatively unscathed by the pandemic, reporting 234,913 deaths from 10.5 million cases, according to AFP tallies.

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