By Nerea González
Johannesburg, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- A year after the first coronavirus case was detected in Africa, the total number of infections in the continent stands at nearly four million and only a few countries have started vaccination campaigns.
Since Egypt became the first African country to report a coronavirus case on 14 February 2020, the continent has registered 3,740,297 cases, including 98,187 deaths, according to African Union’s Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention until 7 am GMT on Sunday.
Over the first few months of the pandemic, the expansion of the virus and the mortality rate in Africa remained lower than in other continents like Europe and the Americas, with the only exception being South Africa.
The quick response and drastic measures enforced by African nations to restrict the contagion rate and buy time to shore up limited national healthcare systems were praised.
Currently, Africa is starting a downward curve of a second Covid-19 wave that saw a higher mortality rate and the emergence of a new variant in South Africa that is thought to be 50% more contagious.
Coronavirus-related deaths have spiked by 40% over the past month compared to the previous one, Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa said earlier this week during a virtual presser.
“The increasing deaths from Covid-19 we are seeing are tragic, but are also disturbing warning signs that health workers and health systems in Africa are dangerously overstretched,” she added.
The new SARS-CoV-2 501Y.V2 variant is dominant in South Africa, where 1.5 million cases have been reported, and it has been confirmed in at least other six African countries; Botswana, Comoros, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia.
The new strains do not only raise concerns because of a higher transmission or fatality rate but also due to their potential resistance to vaccines.