Covid-19 third wave is overwhelming many of Africa's hospitals

24 June 2021 - 15:32 By claire keeton
Lusaka, Kampala, Kinshasa and Johannesburg are among the African cities battling to cope with the Covid-19 third wave, the Africa CDC said on Thursday. File photo.
Lusaka, Kampala, Kinshasa and Johannesburg are among the African cities battling to cope with the Covid-19 third wave, the Africa CDC said on Thursday. File photo.
Image: Theo Jeptha

Hospitals in Africa are being overwhelmed by severe cases of Covid-19 in a surging third wave — the most severe to date — on the continent, says Dr John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

“At least 20 countries are fully in the middle of the third wave and the peak of the third wave is remarkably higher than the peak of the second wave,” he warned at a weekly coronavirus briefing on Thursday.

“The third wave is more severe and has consequences in health systems being overwhelmed.”

Lusaka in Zambia, Kampala in Uganda, Kinshasa in the DRC and Johannesburg are among the cities battling to cope with the demand for treatment, with hospitals running out of oxygen.

The Delta variant of the virus, first identified in India, may be playing a role in driving the rapid rise in infections, said Nkengasong.

Winter in the southern hemisphere could also be worsening the numbers given that more people are indoors, allowing the virus to spread more easily.

African countries have got 80% of Covid-19 vaccines acquired to date into people’s arms, but only 1% of the population is fully vaccinated.

“We are not winning in Africa ... not at all! We need rapid access [to vaccines],” said Africa’s public health chief.

“The key, a plea, is for continuous support to the continent. We are very desperate to scale up vaccines and have used 80% of the vaccines acquired.”

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