Africa COVID deaths surpass 100,000 amid second wave

TEHRAN, Feb. 19 (MNA) – Africa’s reported COVID-19 death toll has surpassed 100,000, a fraction of those reported on other continents but rising fast as the second wave of infections overwhelms hospitals.

The continent’s reported deaths, at 100,354 on Friday, are less than North America’s – at more than half a million – and Europe’s which is approaching 900,000, a Reuters tally shows, Aljazeera reported.

But deaths are rising sharply across Africa, driven by its southern region, especially in the economic powerhouse of South Africa, which accounts for nearly half of the total. South Africa was ravaged by a second wave caused by a more contagious variant that has jammed up casualty wards.

“The increased number (of infections) has led to many severe cases and some of the countries really found it quite difficult to cope,” Dr Richard Mihigo, the coordinator of the immunisation programme at the World Health Organization’s Africa office, told the Reuters news agency.

“We have seen some countries getting to their limit in terms of oxygen supply, which has got a really negative impact in terms of case management for severe cases.”

Mihigo said the rise in deaths was pronounced in countries near South Africa such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, raising the possibility that the 501Y V2 variant identified in South Africa late last year had spread through the southern Africa region – although more genomic sequencing needs to be carried out.

International aid group Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) this month called for urgent vaccine distributions in southern Africa to counter the spread of the new variant, as most African countries have lagged behind richer Western nations in launching mass vaccination programmes.

ZZ/PR

News Code 170153

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