Complacency and disregard for public health measures could trigger a new wave of Covid-19 infections
Nairobi, Kenya | Xinhua | Many African countries are at high risk of COVID-19 resurgence amid lax adherence to containment measures combined with low vaccination and testing, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said the continent could witness a dramatic spike in new infections and fatalities unless mass gatherings were suspended and the wearing of masks was strictly enforced.
“We cannot be lulled into a false sense of security. The devastating surge of cases and deaths in India and increases in other regions of the world are clear signs that the pandemic is not yet over in African countries,” Moeti said in a statement.
Statistics from Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) indicate the continent’s COVID-19 caseload stood at 4.53 million while fatalities tally stood at 121,154 as of Thursday.
Moeti said the continent has escaped the worst of the pandemic, warning that complacency and disregard for public health measures could trigger a new wave of infections.
“A new upsurge of COVID-19 infections is a real risk in many countries even if the region’s case count in recent weeks appears to be stable. Combating COVID-19 fatigue appears to be the key battle in our collective response to the pandemic,” said Moeti.
The latest risk assessment conducted in 46 African countries by WHO indicates that three face very high risk of COVID-19 resurgence, 20 face high, 22 face moderate and only one is facing low risk of the pandemic.
Some of the parameters used in the risk assessment included new dynamics in the virus transmission, the number of tests conducted, case fatality rate and vaccination trends.
Moeti said that community transmission is rampant in the Sub-Saharan African region, adding that undercounting of cases is a possibility since 31 out of 46 countries analyzed performed fewer than ten tests per 10,000 people every week in the last one month.
Moeti said most new cases are still not being detected among known contacts, noting that investigation of clusters of cases and contact tracing are worryingly low in most countries in the region.
She said that African countries should ramp up testing, contact tracing, vaccination and enforcement of public health protocols to avert new upticks that could overwhelm fragile public health systems.