AFRICA – As infections continue to rise claiming thousands of lives across Africa, governments are tightening the belt around measures put in place to reduce the spread of the virus and avert a conceivably critical situation.
The continent, which has thus far reported 5,064,574 cases and 135,158 deaths, has many nations submerged in the third wave of infections, which is threatening to be more severe than the second wave.
South Africa, the most affected nation, recorded 5, 552 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of yesterday and 114 deaths, bringing the official death toll to 57 879.
According to a statement by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), as of Monday, the country recorded 1 752 630 laboratory-confirmed cases. “The majority of new cases are from the Gauteng province (67%), followed by the Western Cape (8%) and North West (5%),” NICD spokesperson Sinenhlanhla Jimoh said.
The country has managed to vaccinate 1,777,288 people with 1 797 doses having been administered in the last 24-hour cycle. Of the total number of people vaccinated, 1,297,520 were done using the Pfizer vaccine.
In an advisory submitted to acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19 has recommended a return to lockdown level 3, imposing similar restrictions to those implemented in December during the second wave of infections. This would mean an earlier evening curfew, and reducing the size of public gatherings, though the committee is not recommending beach closures.
President Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has acknowledged that the COVID situation in the country is very serious, and that hospitals are saturated and there are many deaths.
Covid-19 has already killed 834 people in the DRC from a total of over 37.5 thousand cases. The president has gone on record to say that citizens should expect a drastic review of containment measures which are “not going to please but I believe that life and health come before everything”, he said.
Prevalent virus situation in Zambia is not any better. While addressing the current rise in cases, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Kennedy Malama, said the government will impose restrictions if the current rate of COVID-19 cases and deaths continue.
Zambia’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases has risen dramatically over the past two weeks, from 1.44 new cases per 100,000 people on May 30 to 8.91 new cases per 100,000 people on June 13.
Zambia, with a population of about 18 million people, has a cumulative total of nearly 108,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 1,348 deaths, according to figures released on Monday by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is reintroducing a lockdown in an attempt to contain the spread of a COVID outbreak. Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said in a televised speech this past weekend that complacency has resulted in a spike in COVID cases.
A few days after President Yoweri Museveni reinstated a lockdown, closing schools, banning inter-district travel and public gatherings, among others, for 42 days, a move aimed at curbing the surge in infections and deaths the country is still in COVID shackles.
Statistics from the country’s Ministry of Health for a period of ten days indicate that 10,491 cases have been reported, compared to the previous 10 days, where only 4,757 cases were reported.
The cumulative Covid-19 cases in Uganda now stand at 60,250. Statistics indicate that of the 65 deaths registered across the country in the last 20 days, 90 per cent (58) occurred in the last 10 days.
Tanzania, a country that has barely reported of its COVID situation, has now yielded to pressure from the UN and Bretton Woods institutions to do so as a precondition for funding.
“In order to justify emergency financing in the context of the pandemic, you need to publish relevant public-health data. Publication of such data would be a precondition moving ahead,” said IMF’s resident representative in Tanzania, Jens Reinke.
Africa continues to make efforts to acquire vaccines for its populations so as to attain the 60% target by year end.
“Reaching this target is a prerequisite to saving African lives and livelihoods, safely reopening our economies and resuming our economic development agenda.” said Dr John N Nkengasong, Director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).