Africa: COVID-19 cases top 3 million as new variant poses threat on continent

COVID-19 cumulative cases in Africa have topped 3 million, exceeding the first wave peak, according to the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Africa.

This comes amid reports of a new variant of the COVID-19 virus called 501Y.V2 which is circulating widely in South Africa.

In a statement the World Health Organisation, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti says, “Even if the new variant is not more virulent, a virus that can spread more easily will put further strain on hospitals and health workers who are in many cases already overstretched.

This is a stark reminder that the virus is relentless, that it still presents a manifest threat, and that our war is far from won.”

Genomic sequencing has also found the variant present in Botswana, the Gambia and Zambia while analysts have seen the 501Y.V2 variation to be more transmissible.

However, further investigations are underway to fully understand the new variant but at present there are no indications that it increases the severity of the novel coronavirus.

An average of 25 223 cases were reported each day between December 28, 2020 and January 10, 2021 in Africa, which is nearly 39% higher than the July 2020 two-week peak of 18 104 daily average cases.


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