Africa witnessing longest period of COVID-19 decline, says WHO

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This was contained in a statement released on Thursday by the organisation.

According to the organisation, the reported weekly cases in the continent have fallen for the past 16 weeks, while deaths have dropped for the last eight weeks.

It said infections have dropped from a peak of over 308,000 cases weekly at the start of the year to less than 20,000.

“Over the past week, around 18,000 cases and 239 deaths were recorded, a decline of 29% and 37% respectively compared with the week before. This low level of infection has not been seen since April 2020 in the early stages of the pandemic in Africa,” the statement reads.

“Africa’s previous longest decline in COVID-19 infections was between 1 August and 10 October 2021. Currently, no country is witnessing COVID-19 resurgence.

“World Health Organization (WHO) considers that a country is in resurgence when it records a 20% increase in cases in at least two consecutive weeks and that the recorded week-on-week rise is 30% or higher than the highest weekly infection peak previously reached.”

According to the statement, Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said despite the decreasing infections, it is crucial that countries remain vigilant and maintain surveillance measures.

She said this includes genomic surveillance to swiftly detect circulating COVID-19 variants, enhance testing and scale up vaccination.

“With the virus still circulating, the risk of new and potentially more deadly variants emerging remains, and the pandemic control measures are pivotal to effective response to a surge in infections,” she added.

While noting that several African countries are easing key COVID-19 measures, the WHO asked countries to weigh the risks and benefits as they do so and to take into account the capacity of their health systems, population immunity to COVID-19 and national socioeconomic priorities.

“Systems should be in place to quickly reinstate the measures if the epidemiological situation worsens,” it added.

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