WHO Africa: The second COVID-19 wave is more challenging than the first

Nearly 74,500 COVID-19 patients in Africa have died while more than 3.1 million coronavirus cases have been recorded.

Professional healthcare workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) attend to a patient inside the temporary ward dedicated to the treatment of possible COVID-19 coronavirus patients at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria on 11 January 2021. Picture: Phill Magakoe/AFP

CAPE TOWN - The World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Africa has stressed the important for countries to improve routine-sequencing of the coronavirus.

This - experts said – would allow countries to better monitor the emergence of variants and their subsequent spread across countries.

WHO Africa region scientists gave an update on the pandemic's progression on the continent earlier on Thursday.

Nearly 74,500 COVID-19 patients in Africa have died while more than 3.1 million coronavirus cases have been recorded.

The global health body's Doctor Matshidiso Moeti said the pandemic's second wave presented significantly more challenges compared to the first wave.

“Preliminary analysis finds the new variant circulating in South Africa to be more transmissible and it appears to be driving the surge in new infections in the country and in the sub-region.”

Moeti said the same variant was also detected in Zambia, Botswana and Gambia.

“We think that it could be present in more countries than that and deeper investigations are under way to fully understand the epidemiological implications.

"But at present there are no indications that the new variant increases the severity of the disease.”

The WHO regional director has applauded efforts by the African Union to secure provisional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for distribution across the continent.

WATCH: WHO says SA to be among the first to get vaccine rollout in Africa

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