The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that 11 nations across the continent have reported cases of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.
Addressing the media here on Thursday, John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC, said that seven additional African countries have reported the Omicron variant during the past week, bringing the overall continental tally to 11, reports Xinhua news agency.
The countries are South Africa, Botswana, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Zambia, Senegal, Tunisia, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.
Also on Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the above mentioned African nations currently account for 46 per cent of the nearly 1,000 Omicron cases reported by 57 countries across the world.
Emerging data from South Africa indicates that Omicron may cause less severe illness, said the WHO, adding that the ICU occupancy in the country between November 14 and December 4 was only 6.3 per cent, which is very low compared with the time when the it was facing the peak linked to the Delta variant in July.
Despite the widespread global presence of Omicron, more than 60 countries have imposed travel bans that are mainly targeting southern African countries, some of which have yet to report any Omicron case.
“With Omicron now present in nearly 60 countries globally, travel bans that mainly target African countries are hard to justify,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa.
“We call for science-based public health measures to counter the spread of Covid-19,” said Moeti, noting that the travel restrictions, which come at the height of the end-of-year tourist season, is ravaging Africa’s economies, with a knock-on impact that is potentially devastating to the health of Africans.
Meanwhile, the world body also said that the weekly Covid-19 cases in the continent has surged by 93 per cent
As of Friday, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Africa reached 8,797,227 cases, as the death toll stood at 224,231.
According to the WHO, Africa has so far received more than 372 million Covid-19 vaccine doses and administered 248 million.
Although the pace of vaccination has increased in recent months, only 7.8 per cent of Africa’s population is fully inoculated.