The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on Friday urged African health authorities to intensify COVID-19 prevention measures amid the emergence of a new variant.
The Africa CDC made the call a day after the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in South Africa announced the detection of a new variant, B.1.1.529, of the SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Health Organization on Friday classified it as a “Variant of Concern.”
“National health authorities across the continent should reinforce public health and social measures and accelerate immunization of their populations, prioritizing high-risk groups, ahead of upcoming new waves of COVID-19 infections,” the agency said in a statement.
It called on African countries to expedite COVID-19 vaccination drive to halt the spread of the virus, saying “vaccines remain a key tool to prevent severe cases and deaths from COVID-19 infection.”
The agency underscored the need to reinforce timely genomic surveillance through coordination with national and regional pathogen genomics laboratories.
As of Saturday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa has reached 8,616,912 with 222,301 deaths and 8,064,499 recoveries, according to the agency.