Thursday, even as the World Health Organisation says Nigeria is one of the countries witnessing a spike in infections in Africa, alongside South Africa, Uganda and Namibia.
The Regional Director, WHO Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said this during a media conference with African journalists on Thursday.
Moeti said, “On the African continent, there have now been more than 4.8 million COVID-19 cases and 131,000 people died sadly. In the past week, 74,000 new cases have been reported, an increase of nine per cent over the previous week.
“We are seeing rising cases in South Africa and in countries like Uganda and Namibia, and cases have increased abruptly in eight countries, including Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria in the past seven days. We’ve seen how COVID-19 can quickly overwhelm health systems that are not equipped to manage a surge in cases. So, critical care capacities remain vitally important.”
Moeti warned African nations to strengthen preparedness for a third wave.
The WHO director stated that a survey carried out in May found that in many African countries, crucial equipment and the health workforce required to handle severely ill COVID-19 patients fall far short of needs.
“Of the 23 countries responding to the survey, most have fewer than one intensive care unit bed per 100,000 population and will require an increase of between 2,500 per cent and 3,000 per cent to meet needs during a surge. Among the countries providing information on ventilators, only a third of their intensive care unit beds are equipped with mechanical ventilators,” Moeti said.
The WHO director said this was at variance with high-income countries such as Germany, Luxembourg or the United States that had been able to cope with COVID-19 surges and had over 25 beds per 100,000 population.
Moeti noted that Africa had only been able to receive two per cent of all doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, which had affected the continent’s preparedness.
“The threat of a third wave in Africa is real and rising. Our priority is clear – it’s crucial that we swiftly get vaccines into the arms of Africans at high risk of falling seriously ill and dying of COVID-19. While many countries outside Africa have now vaccinated their high-priority groups and are able to even consider vaccinating their children, African countries are unable to even follow up with second doses for high-risk groups,” she said.
Altogether, 48.6 million doses have been received and 31.4 million doses have been administered in 50 countries in Africa, where around two per cent of the population have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while globally 24 per cent have been vaccinated.
“I would like to request government partners to provide support to people who can’t actually afford to buy a mask or even have a mask made to have the masks distributed to them for free because that will help people as well,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has disclosed that 18 people died in Nigeria on Thursday due to COVID-19 complications.
This was disclosed on NCDC’s website on Friday.
“On June 3, 2021, 122 new confirmed cases and 18 deaths were recorded in Nigeria. To date, 166,682 cases have been confirmed, 162,521 cases have been discharged and 2,117 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. The 122 new cases reported from nine states are: Lagos (105), Imo (4), Kaduna (4), Akwa Ibom (3), FCT (2), Delta (1), Rivers (1), Oyo (1) and Ekiti (1).”
The new figure shows a sharp increase from the previous day, which was 17 infections and zero deaths. On Monday, Nigeria recorded 28 deaths and 203 new cases after about a month of significantly low infections.
According to the NCDC, just about one out of every 100 test samples comes back positive.
However, experts have argued that Nigeria’s testing rate is very low as only 2.1 million samples have been tested in the last 15 months.