Africa’s COVID-19 cases near 8.5 million mark

FILE PHOTO: Staff members in the COVID-19 ward at Rondebosch Medical Centre wave at people gathered outside, in Cape Town on January 14, 2021. (Photo by Rodger Bosch via CFP)
FILE PHOTO: Staff members in the COVID-19 ward at Rondebosch Medical Centre wave at people gathered outside, in Cape Town on January 14, 2021. (Photo by Rodger Bosch via CFP)

The number of COVID-19 infections in Africa neared the 8.5 million mark on Sunday even as countries on the continent continue their efforts to contain the virus.

Figures published by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday afternoon, the continent had reported 8,494,634 confirmed cases with 218,288 fatalities.

South Africa remains to be the hardest-hit country by the pandemic on the continent, having recorded 2,921,886 cases with 89,163 deaths.

The country accounts for 34.39 per cent of the continent’s caseload and 40.85 per cent of its fatalities.

No other African country has reported a virus load exceeding one million.

Morocco’s 945,960 infections are the second-highest in Africa while Tunisia’s 712,581 are third.

All other countries on the continent have reported infections below the 500,000 mark.

Besides South Africa, only Tunisia (25,238) has registered more than 20,000 virus-related fatalities.

African countries have embarked on vaccination drives in efforts to contain further spread of the virus.

The continent’s vaccinations however lag behind other regions, with the WHO last week announcing that only five African countries are projected to hit the end year target of inoculating at least 40 per cent of their people against COVID-19.

Data from the WHO shows that Africa has fully vaccinated 77 million people, just 6 per cent of its population. In comparison, over 70 per cent of high-income countries have already vaccinated more than 40 per cent of their people.