JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The variety of coronavirus instances and deaths in Africa have dropped to their lowest levels for the reason that pandemic started, marking the longest decline yet seen in the illness, in accordance to the World Health Organization.
In a press release on Thursday, the U.N. well being company stated COVID-19 infections due to the omicron surge had “tanked” from a peak of greater than 308,000 weekly instances to fewer than 20,000 final week. Cases and deaths fell by 29% and 37% respectively in the final week; deaths decreased to 239 from the earlier week.
“This low stage of an infection has not been seen since April 2020 in the early phases of the pandemic in Africa,” WHO stated, noting that no nation in the area is presently seeing a rise of COVID-19 instances.
The company warned, nonetheless, that with winter approaching for Southern Hemisphere international locations, “there’s a excessive threat of one other wave of latest infections.” The coronavirus spreads extra simply in cooler temperatures when persons are extra seemingly to collect in bigger numbers indoors.
“With the virus nonetheless circulating, the danger of latest and probably extra lethal variants rising stays, and the pandemic management measures are pivotal to efficient response to a surge in infections,” stated Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Africa director.
Earlier this week, WHO stated scientists in Botswana and South Africa have detected new types of the omicron variant, labeled as BA.4 and BA.5, however aren’t positive yet in the event that they is likely to be extra transmissible or harmful.
To date, the brand new variations of omicron have been detected in 4 folks in Botswana and 23 folks in South Africa. Beyond Africa, scientists have confirmed instances in Belgium, Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom. WHO stated there was thus far no proof the brand new sub-variants unfold any in a different way than the unique omicron variant.
Despite repeated warnings from WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus that the coronavirus would devastate Africa, the continent has been among the many least affected by the pandemic.
In an evaluation launched final week, WHO estimated that up to 65% of individuals in Africa have been contaminated with the coronavirus and stated in contrast to many different areas, most individuals contaminated on the continent did not present any signs.
Scientists at WHO and elsewhere have speculated that elements together with Africa’s younger inhabitants, the decrease incidence of persistent illnesses like coronary heart illness and diabetes and hotter climate, might have helped it keep away from a much bigger wave of illness. Still, some international locations have seen vital will increase in the numbers of unexplained deaths, suggesting authorities had been lacking quite a few COVID-19 instances.
Follow AP’s protection of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic
Associated Press, The Associated Press