More than 60,000 covid -19 deaths were reported on the African continent last week.
According to the World Health Organization ( WHO), this is the highest number of deaths that have been recorded in Africa since the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year.
Death trends are on the rise in 15 countries, and 12 have reported higher case fatality rates than the African average of 2.5% over the last month. With more than 172, 000 deaths, Africa accounts for over 4% of the 4.2 million COVID-19 related deaths recorded globally to date.
COVID-19 cases rose by 19% to over 278, 000 in the week ending on 1 August. South Africa accounted for 29% of the cases, which remain close to Africa’s record high of 286, 000 weekly cases recorded in early July. 22 African countries have seen cases rise by over 20% for at least two weeks running.
The high number of deaths on the continent comes at a time when many countries are reporting an increase in cases due to variants that are believed to be highly transmittable. The Delta variant has been found in 29 African countries. The Alpha variant has been detected in 39 countries and Beta variant in 35.
Dr Phionah Atuhebwe, in charge of New Vaccines Introduction at the WHO Africa Regional, described the increase in deaths as a sad occurrence. She says the rise in deaths and cases is not a good thing.
“It’s a sad day for Africa. Our hearts go out to everyone who has lost friends and loved ones. Deaths have peaked week-on-week on the continent and after a slight dip, COVID-19 cases are surging again. The latest data tells us that Africa is still on the crest of the third wave, still recording more cases than in any earlier peak and that we cannot take anything for granted,” she said.
Last week, 135 COVID-19 deaths were recorded in Uganda. While the figure represents a 39 reduction in the number of reports from the previous week, the minister of health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng said this does not mean the country is overcoming the disease.
“We are reporting a decrease in numbers but the deaths are still up there. Every other day, the number of people succumbing to the disease increases. So we still need to be cautious by wearing our masks, washing our hands and avoiding crowded places. The best way to avoid joining the deceased is by not being infected with the disease,” the minister said.