AFRICA – According to Africa’s top public health official, John Nkengasong, severe lockdowns are no longer effective in preventing the spread of Covid 19.
The director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) praised South Africa for its response to the latest infection wave caused by the Omicron variant at a news conference on Thursday.
“We are very encouraged with what we saw in South Africa during this period where they look at the data in terms of severity (of infections),” said John Nkengasong.
He added, “The period where we are using severe lockdowns as a tool is over.” He encouraged governments to consider the use of public health and social measures more carefully and in a balanced way as the vaccination increases.
South Africa saw a sharp increase in COVID-19 infections beginning in late November, around the time it alerted the world to Omicron, with new infections reaching an all-time high in mid-December.
South Africa can now boast of a steady reduction in new cases, despite the fact that the government did not impose strict measures as it did during the virus’s first and second waves.
Nkengasong also expressed concern that COVID-19 could become endemic on the continent due to the slow pace of vaccination, a scenario that many scientists have predicted.
“Unless … by the end of this year the continent actually scales up its vaccination to above 70 percent or 80 percent, my worry is that we might … be into a scenario where COVID becomes endemic,” he said.
Experts believe that COVID-19, cannot be eradicated and will likely become endemic, which means it will always be present in the population to some extent, similar to the flu or chickenpox.
According to the most recent Africa CDC figures, less than 10% of Africa’s population has been fully immunized against COVID-19, with many countries initially struggling to obtain enough shots.
Over the last four weeks, there has been a 36 percent average increase in new cases reported in Africa, with an 8 percent average increase in new deaths.
Meanwhile, Germany has reduced travel risk status for Southern Africa countries. All countries that appeared on Germany’s ‘virus variant areas list’ will be moved to its high-risk list, according to a recent announcement by the country’s Robert Koch Institute.