WHO: COVID-19 third wave on a downward slide in Africa

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Staff members in the COVID-19 ward at Rondebosch Medical Centre wave at people gathered outside, in Cape Town on January 14, 2021. /Rodger Bosch/CFP

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that the third COVID-19 wave in Africa appears to be subsiding, with a 23 percent decrease in new cases last week.

Speaking during a press briefing on the pandemic, genome sequencing and COVID-19 variants in Africa, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said this is the steepest drop in eight weeks since the peak in July, and it has been driven largely by countries in Northern and Southern Africa.

 

“Variants of concern, in particular, Delta have sparked flare-ups, prolonging the acute phase of the third wave for longer than expected. This is creating challenges for the public health response.” Dr. Moeti explained.

Scientists are also tracking the C.1.2 variant that has been found in 130 cases in 10 countries globally, including 5 African countries with over 90 percent of the cases.

The UN Health Agency further explained that there’s no evidence yet that it is more transmissible nor that it affects vaccine efficacy.

“Knowing which COVID-19 variants are circulating and where is critical for informing effective response operations. This is why together, with the South African National Biodiversity Institute, the WHO is launching a new Regional Centre of Excellence for Genomic Surveillance in Cape Town.”

The centre will help to scale up sequencing and bioinformatics on the continent for COVID-19 and other diseases.

This ground-breaking initiative aims to initially support 14 countries in scaling up their genome sequencing by 15-fold each month.

 

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