By Asmau Ahmad
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said over 250,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the African continent since the outbreak of the viral infection.
The Africa CDC gave the estimate in its latest update on Sunday, while also disclosing that over 11 million cases have been recorded on the continent so far with over 10 million recoveries.
The agency stated that the continent has now recorded 11,322,887 cases and 250,942 fatalities.
The continent, the Africa CDC added, had recorded 10,630,071 recoveries despite the huge fatalities recorded.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Africa says about 201 million people or 15.6 per cent of the population were fully vaccinated compared with the global average of 57 per cent.
According to WHO, while COVID-19 cases have declined across the continent since the peak of the Omicron-driven fourth wave in early January 2022, vaccination coverage remained far behind the rest of the world.
In the Africa CDC’s latest report, the Central African region has recorded 359,868 cases; 4,523 deaths and 328,015 recoveries, while Cameroon has the highest figures with 119,544 cases; 1,927 deaths and 117,455 recoveries.
East Africa, according to the report recorded 1,393,951 cases; 27,297 deaths and 1,123,346 recoveries with Ethiopia leading the region with 469,611 cases; 7,492 deaths and 431,244 recoveries.
In Northern Africa, there were 3,525,102 cases; 82,914 deaths and 3,309,270 recoveries, while Morocco had the highest figures with 1,162,764 cases; 16,056 deaths and 1,146,137 recoveries.
According to the report, Southern Africa recorded 5,208,608 cases; 124,878 deaths and 5,052,512 recoveries, while South Africa is still the leading country on the continent with 3,712,263 cases; 99,965 deaths and 3,597,725 recoveries.
The Africa CDC report showed that the West African region recorded 835,358 cases; 11,330 deaths and 816,928 recoveries, with Nigeria having the highest figures with 255,296 cases; 3,142 deaths and 249,495 recoveries.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, had in a press briefing on Thursday, cautioned countries on the continent against the dangers of neglecting preventive measures while reopening economies and resuming social life.
Dr. Moeti decried the low rate of contact tracing on the continent, which according to her is a key strategy for curbing the spread of the virus and reducing mortality.
She said, “Based on analysis of open-source data, WHO finds that by 15 March 2022, 13 countries were conducting comprehensive surveillance, while 19 countries were carrying out prioritized contact tracing. 22 African countries were no longer carrying out any kind of contact tracing.
“It is a matter of concern that nearly half of all countries in Africa have stopped tracing the contacts of cases. This, along with robust testing, is the backbone of any pandemic response. Without this critical information, it is difficult to track the spread of the virus and identify new COVID-19 hotspots that may be caused by known or emerging variants.”
Aside from contact tracing, Dr. Moeti stressed that testing was a critical surveillance strategy.
She added, “The WHO benchmark for countries with a good testing rate is 10 tests per 10, 000 population per week. In the first quarter of 2022, only 27 per cent of countries were achieving this weekly target, indicating a concerning decrease in testing rates compared with 2021, when 40 per cent of countries reached the benchmark.”