The World Health Organization warned, Thursday, that the continent is facing a “decisive moment” in its war against the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the number of injuries and deaths increasing after the easing of closures and travel restrictions.
During the past month, the average increase in weekly infections with the virus reached 7% across the continent, and the average increase in weekly deaths was 8%, according to the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
“Indeed, we are at a critical moment for the spread of the pandemic in Africa,” WHO Africa Director Machidisu Moeti said during a press conference. While the continent has witnessed a downward trend in the virus outbreak index during the last three months, this decline has stabilized.
Despite initially fears that the pandemic could devastate the region, the 55 African Union countries have recorded about 1.6 million infections so far, representing only 4.2% of the total number of infections in the world, according to the Africa CDC.
As for the deaths on the continent, which amounted to about 39 thousand, they represent 3.6% of the total global deaths.
“We can’t afford that”
John Nkengasung, director of the Africa CDC, said that many countries have imposed punitive lockdown measures and restricted travel for long periods, measures that will be difficult to reintroduce in response to a new outbreak of the virus.
He added, “We see what is happening in Europe as they ease the lockdown measures, how the numbers of new infections have increased, and even many countries are considering imposing a second lockdown. We cannot bear that.”
“We cannot let this virus undo the gains we have made in recent months since the outbreak of the pandemic began,” he added.
South Africa has recorded about half of HIV infections on the continent.
In North Africa, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya recorded large increases in injuries in recent weeks.
Moiti said that compared to the start of the pandemic, African countries “are now in a much better position to face the new challenges posed by Covid-19 on our way,” referring to the significant increases in testing and respirators.
But she expressed concern about the impact of the growing number of infections in Europe on the continent.
“We know the close connection between Africa and Europe,” she said, adding, “That is why we are concerned about the high number of infections in Europe at the same time that travelers and tourists from there are allowed to enter Africa.”