The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday said the weekly COVID-19 cases in Africa have declined by more than 20 per cent. WHO made this known in a statement titled, ‘COVID-19 variants prolong Africa’s pandemic wave.’

The statement reads partly, “Weekly COVID-19 cases in Africa fell by more than 20 per cent – the sharpest seven-day decline in two months – as the third wave pandemic tapers off.

“However, the rate of deceleration is slower than the previous waves owing to the impact of more transmissible variants.

“The continent recorded more than 165,000 cases in the week ending on 5th September – three per cent ‘lower than the week before, yet still higher than the weekly cases recorded at the peak of the first wave.

“The more contagious Delta variant that partly fuelled the third wave has been dominant in several countries that experienced COVID-19 surge. In southern Africa, for instance, where more than 4,000 COVID-19 genome sequencing data was produced in August, the Delta variant was detected in over 70 per cent samples from Botswana, Malawi, and South Africa, and over 90 per cent from Zimbabwe.”

According to the statement, WHO’s Africa Regional Director, Dr Matshidioso Moeti, said the continent was working towards increasing the rate of genomic sequencing.

Moeti said, “We are spearheading critical work and supporting countries in scaling up pathogen surveillance through genome sequencing to detect and respond effectively to COVID-19 variants.”

The statement further stated that the WHO recently provided financial support to countries including Eswatini, Sao Tome and Principe, and Senegal, to reinforce genomic surveillance.

The dominant Delta variant has been detected in 31 African countries, while the Alpha variants – 44 countries, and the Beta variants in 39 countries.

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