When the COVID-19 outbreak first began earlier last year, the concern of most experts was what would happen to Africa. The reason is that Africa is largely underdeveloped with largely defective health systems. However, unlike the rest of the world, the continent fared better, upending experts’ concerns. Now, COVID-19 second wave is sweeping through the world and Africa is not an exception. This was also confirmed by the African Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Interestingly, health officials in the UK have found a new variant of the virus. The new variant is 70% more infectious. Many fear that the spike in Africa might be because of this variant. Meanwhile, South Africa is the first African country to surpass one million cases. According to the data by the WHO, since late September, the cases have been on the rise. The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is now sweeping across the African continent. From South Africa to Egypt, Tunisia, and Nigeria, the number of new infections is on the rise in parts of the continent.
COVID-19 Second Wave in Africa
Since the pandemic first began, the African continent has so far recorded nearly 2.6 million confirmed infections with as many as 76,921 fatalities. For a population of 1.2 billion, it means that roughly one in every five hundred is infected. This is impressive compared to one in every twenty in America. Meanwhile, looking at the new weekly cases in the month up to the second week of December, they have surged by a 6 percent average each week. Unlike the rest of the world, the African continent fared well through the first wave of infections. However, since November, health authorities are reporting a relatively high surge in new cases.
According to the WHO, the number of daily new infections across the continent has returned to the July peak earlier last year. But there are significant variations in the coronavirus outbreak across the continent. Some parts are recording a localized outbreak while others are seeing a significant surge. Others are yet to surpass the initial peak in the infections. However, South Africa accounts for nearly more than half of the continent’s total infections. Here are ten countries battling the deadly COVID-19 second wave.
#1. South Africa
A few weeks ago, South Africa’s National Coronavirus Command Council held emergency meetings as the new surge in infections could overwhelm the health care facilities. For the past week, the nation records more than 14,000 new infections daily. As the country reached the one million infections threshold, government officials met to reintroduce social distancing to curb the COVID-19 second wave. According to the data by John Hopkins University, South Africa has a total of 1.3 million infections with 36,385 fatalities. Recently, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a new restriction, including a ban on public gatherings and the sale of alcohol. Also, the president is in self-isolation after coming in contact with a COVID-19 positive person.
Currently, the country is under a nighttime curfew in a bid to curb the spread of the COVID-19 second wave. In addition to the curfew, the government has also put a ban on public gatherings as well as private parties. Recently, Morocco recorded as many as 2,000 cases on daily basis. This follows earlier reports by local media that there is a significant drop in testing. As of Thursday, January 14, 2021, the nation has over 456,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus with nearly 7,727 fatalities.
Tunisian authorities recorded over 3,600 new infections on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. This was the highest figure since January 2021. It came a day before the government imposed a four-day national lockdown in a bid to curb the COVID-19 second wave infections. Until the start of 2021, Tunisian officials had managed to control the pandemic outbreak. However, the country is seeing rapid spikes in recent days. So far, the nation has recorded more than 175,000 confirmed cases and 5,528 deaths.
A few days ago, Khaled Megahed, the spokesperson of Egypt’s health ministry said that the country has so far recorded more than 153,000 confirmed infections as it enters the COVID-19 second wave. So far, the North African nation has over 8,527 fatalities. Meanwhile, the government authorities continuously urge the residents to adhere to social distancing and wear face coverings. However, the educational institutes across the country are open and running at optimal capacity. It was the same spike in infections that led to the cancellation of New Year’s eve celebrations.
Ethiopia is facing a deadly pandemic in addition to political unrest in the Tigray province. A few weeks ago, the WHO warned that the local transmission of cases in the region could surge. After the government’s military offensive in Tigray, there has been no verifiable information on COVID-19 in the region due to the communication breakdown. So far, the nation has recorded more than 131,000 infections with as many as 2,000 fatalities. The paucity of data makes it hard to tell if the fatalities are fewer or unreported. Nonetheless, available data suggest that the rate of daily new infections has declined in recent days. However, it remains unclear whether the new data includes cases in the northern conflict-hit region.
The conflict-hit African nation remains one of the top 7 countries battling COVID-19 second wave. As of Thursday, January 14, 2021, Libya has recorded more than 108,000 cases of COVID-19 with as many as 1,651 deaths. Given that the residents in the country have little or no access to quality health care, many predict that it could be challenging for Libya to tackle the second wave. Thankfully, there are media reports suggesting that the UN-brokered talks are making progress on setting up a national government. Many experts suggest that a stable government will help the country handle the pandemic.
A few weeks ago, the health authorities in Nigeria detected a new variant of the respiratory disease. However, experts think it is likely to a home-grown mutation of the virus. There are chances that it is not as contagious as the one detected in the UK. As of the second week of January, the African nation has recorded more than 108,000 confirmed cases with nearly 1,420 deaths.
Comparing the numbers to the outbreak in Europe and South America, many see this number as modest for a nation of 200 million people. Nigerian capital saw the biggest surge and authorities quickly imposed social distancing restrictions and a ban on public gatherings of more than fifty people. Despite all this, health officials have warned Africans not to let their guard down.
COVID-19 Vaccine in Africa
Several countries in Europe and America have begun vaccinating their citizens against COVID-19. America is working towards hitting 20 million inoculations. So far, a vaccine developed by Pfizer and Moderna has been approved by the American FDA.
According to reports, the African Union has secured 300 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. This is the largest of such a deal for Africa. However, it is unclear how the vaccines will be distributed. One thing is certain, it will take a long time before many African nations will get their jabs. However, the biggest question in all of this is, ‘will Africans agree to take the vaccine?’ See how our readers voted below.