Delta variant fuelling COVID surge in Africa –WHO

Amarachi Okeh

The World Health Organisation has alerted that the Delta variant of the coronavirus is causing a surge in the spread of the viral infection across the continent.

The WHO disclosed this in a press statement released on Thursday.

According to WHO, the Delta variant has been reported in 16 countries on the continent.

The global health agency stated that the countries affected include nine countries with surging cases of the virus.

According to the press statement, COVID-19 cases in Africa have increased in the last six weeks.

The statement reads, “With case numbers doubling in Africa every three weeks, the Delta variant is spreading to a growing number of countries.

“It has been reported in 16 countries, including nine with surging cases. It is the most contagious variant yet, an estimated 30%–60% more transmissible than other variants.

“It is in three of the five countries reporting the highest caseloads for the week ending 27 June. And it is dominant in South Africa, which accounted for more than half of Africa’s cases in the same period.

“According to the latest country reports, the Delta variant was detected in 97% of samples sequenced in Uganda and 79% of samples sequenced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo”.

The WHO also stated that the Alpha and Beta variants of the virus have been reported in 32 and 27 African countries respectively.

“Alpha variant has been detected in most countries in north, west and central Africa. The Beta variant is more widespread in southern Africa. Both of these variants are more transmissible than the original virus,” WHO said.

The WHO also disclosed that in Uganda, 66% of severe illness in people younger than 45 years has been attributed to the Delta variant.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, however, stressed the need for better preventive measures to stop the surge in infections.

“The speed and scale of Africa’s third wave is like nothing we’ve seen before. The rampant spread of more contagious variants pushes the threat to Africa up to a whole new level.

“More transmission means more serious illness and more deaths, so everyone must act now and boost prevention measures to stop an emergency becoming a tragedy,” Moeti said.

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