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Hot-spot nations fuel virus concerns on continent

By EDITH MUTETHYA in Nairobi, Kenya | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-06-21 10:32
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A health worker waits to get a booster shot vaccine against COVID-19 in a makeshift tent at a medical clinic in Nairobi, Kenya, Jan 19, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

While Africa is reporting a marginal increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases following a sustained three-week decline, new infections are surging in some countries with Kenya and Mauritius experiencing a sixth wave of the pandemic.

Additionally, 15 African Union member states are currently experiencing a fifth wave of COVID-19, which is severe in seven countries.

Cabo Verde, Ethiopia and Morocco joined the list experiencing the fifth wave last week, as Kenya joined Mauritius in the sixth wave of the pandemic.

"COVID-19 is still here and when we see countries going into the next wave, it's very educative that we should continue to protect ourselves both using nonpharmaceutical measures and for those who are not vaccinated and those vaccinated to get their next jab," said Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, acting director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During the week ending June 12, Africa reported a total of 29,077 new cases, translating to a 3 percent increase compared to the previous week.

The number of new deaths on the other hand reduced from 222 to 203, representing a 9 percent decrease compared to the previous week, Africa CDC data indicated.

Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization's regional director for Africa, said the increase could be a reflection of the easing of public health measures across countries, or possibly because some of the northern countries' people are traveling more.

However, she said weekly incidence remains relatively low compared to previous waves of the pandemic.

Between June 6 and 12, South Africa reported the highest number of new cases at 10,385, followed by Morocco with 5,410, Ethiopia with 3,951, Kenya with 1,591 and Zambia with 1,076.

Kenya has seen its positivity rate increase from 5 percent late last month to the current of over 10 percent on average. On Saturday, the country reported the highest positivity rate at 14.5 percent.

According to Africa CDC data, the country reported an average of 92 percent increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases between May 16 and June 12.

Medical practitioners attributed the increasing numbers of infection cases to the current cold weather and the ongoing political campaigns ahead of the August general elections amid the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions.

"It's unfortunate that people are attending the crowded political campaign rallies without putting on face masks or observing social distance. There is, therefore, no doubt that the country will continue to experience an upsurge in infection cases," a clinical officer who only identified himself as John said.

Following surging infection cases, Kenya's Ministry of Health launched the accelerated COVID-19 vaccination and booster shot campaign on Thursday for the youth in learning institutions.

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