Africa’s second wave COVID-19 infections could be associated with emergence of new variants: Africa CDC

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The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on Saturday said the ongoing second wave COVID-19 infections could be associated with the emergence of variants that are more transmissible.

“Africa is currently experiencing an increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases,” the African Union (AU) Commission’s specialized healthcare agency said in its latest publication on Saturday.

At least 40 countries have experienced a second wave of the pandemic as of January 27, including all countries in the Southern Africa region, the Africa CDC said.

“This new wave of infections is thought to be associated with the emergence of variants that are more transmissible,” the Africa CDC said.

According to the agency, preliminary findings show that three new similar but distinct Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants, the 501Y/VUI – 202012/01, 501Y.V2, 501Y.V3, reported in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, respectively, “are significantly more transmissible than previously circulating variants, with high viral shedding observed among cases.”

Despite the fact that there is currently limited data on the extent to which these new variants have spread in Africa, the Africa CDC stressed that preliminary data show that the 501Y.V2 variant has been reported in 22 countries globally including South Africa, Ghana, Botswana and Zambia.

The Africa CDC is presently working with partners and member states to map the regional spread of the new variants in Africa through regional genomic surveillance; and support laboratory centers of excellence to address the emerging SARS-CoV-2 sequencing needs of Member States and ensure availability of geographically representative and timely data.

Providing technical guidance for genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in Africa; ensuring quality-assured sequencing by specialized laboratories and regional laboratory hubs; and strengthen the capacity of national and regional laboratories to effectively respond to the emerging sequencing needs are also said to be the major Africa CDC intervention areas in the fight against the pandemic.

According to the latest figures from the Africa CDC, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent stood at 3,534,360 as of Saturday morning.

According to the agency’s dashboard, the death toll related to the pandemic in Africa was at 89,839 as of Saturday morning.

A total of 3,014,896 people infected with COVID-19 have recovered across the continent, it was noted.

The Southern Africa region is the most affected area in Africa in terms of the number of confirmed positive cases, followed by the northern Africa region, according to the agency.