The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued an alert on a possible surge of Covid-19 infections amid the festive season.
The alert comes following a recent report of an increase of Covid-19 cases in parts of Africa.
Speaking during a virtual media briefing, the WHO Incident Manager Africa Regional Office Dr Balde’ Thierno said that a number of countries have already reported an increasing number of cases although the rate of hospitalizations is still low.
“It is important to maintain a certain level of vigilance, because, usually all cases of the viral disease would surge amid the festive seasons, between the months of May to July and November through December to January,” said Dr Thierno.
Dr Thierno said that similar trends had been seen in 2020 characterized by end year surges of cases and deaths.
The main drivers of the surges as explained by the expert have been the emergence of other SARS-CoV-2 variants.
“The increasing cases of Covid 19 and other respiratory diseases in parts of the world should be a cause of concern, it is during this period last year that the Omicron variant was also reported although with less severe impacts,” said Dr Thierno.
According to the WHO data as of December 9,2022, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Botswana, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar and Angola have recorded a total of 143 deaths due to Covid-19 within the last two weeks accounting to 85 percent of fatalities.
South Africa leads at 122 deaths followed by Zimbabwe at six while Angola closes the list with only one death.
The data also revealed that Kenya is among the countries with a higher number of hospitalizations within the past two weeks.
As of December fourth, the number of hospitalizations in Kenya remained steady at 24 patients.
“The general hospital occupancy in the Intensive Care Unit in Mauritius had risen but remained low at 5.2 percent and 1.5 percent,” said Dr Thierno adding that in South Africa, the hospital admissions had fallen steadily for the past three weeks with a backlog of deaths reported.
In DRC and Madagascar, the number of patients in hospital were nine and two respectively while Burundi and Ethiopia did not report any new hospitalizations.
The global organization is now calling for increased sensitization and awareness on the vaccines to increase the uptake while the high risk persons should also be advised to wear masks.
Dr Thierno said that apart from building one’s immunity, the vaccine also plays an important role of limiting the circulation of the virus within the community and in turn protecting the vulnerable.
He said adding that “the more the virus circulates, the more the chances of the virus mutating with fears that it may escape the available vaccines,”.
Since the onset of the pandemic, 643,875,406 cases of Covid have been reported globally with 6,630,082 while Africa has recorded 9,415,892 cases of the infection.