African countries need to stay vigilant and weigh the risks before relaxing Covid-19 measures, despite the decreasing infections, warned the World Health Organisation (WHO) in a statement, noting that the continent is faced with risks of possible resurgence and new variants.
Africa is called for vigilance, as it is experiencing its longest-running decline in infections since the onset of the pandemic, said the statement released by the WHO regional office for Africa, on Thursday, adding that the weekly cases have fallen for the past 16 weeks, after recording around 18,000 cases and 239 deaths in the week ending on April 10, a decline of 29 per cent and 37 per cent respectively.
“Despite the decreasing infections, it is crucial that countries remain vigilant and maintain surveillance measures, including genomic surveillance to swiftly detect circulating Covid-19 variants, enhance testing and scale up vaccination,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, noting the possible resurgence of the pandemic and new variants.
“With the virus still circulating, the risk of new and potentially more deadly variants emerging remains, and the pandemic control measures are pivotal to the effective response to a surge in infections,” Moeti added in the statement.
With the cold season approaching in the Southern hemisphere in June through August, Africa now faces a high risk of another wave of new infections, warned the WHO, adding that new variants can impact the evolution of the pandemic, as the BA.4 and BA.5, the new sub-lineages of the Omicron variant, have been recently detected in Botswana and South Africa.
As several African countries are easing Covid-19 measures, including mask-wearing in public places, the WHO urged the continent to weigh the risks and benefits and to quickly reinstate the measures in case the epidemiological situation worsens, Xinhua news agency reported.
As of Thursday morning, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Africa reached 11,369,164. The death toll from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic stood at 251,666, while 10,741,624 people who have been infected with the disease have recovered, according to the Africa CDC.
South Africa has recorded the most Covid-19 cases in Africa with 3,733,919 cases, while the northern African countries, Morocco and Tunisia reported 1,164,052 and 1,038,668 cases, respectively, said the Africa CDC.