Africa as a continent accounts for only 3.5% of global cases and 4% of global deaths, the World Health Organization said Thursday.
WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti told journalists that African countries have risen to the challenge of COVID-19, but at a massive cost to national economies, livelihoods and development.
“The one-year milestone comes as the continent faces the spread of new strains of the virus. Variant B1351, first detected in South Africa, has been detected in eight African countries. Variant B117, identified in the UK, has been detected in six countries on the continent,” Moeti said.
“While a vaccine that protects against all forms of COVID-19 illness is our biggest hope, preventing severe cases and hospitalizations, which overwhelm hospitals, is crucial,” she added.
“So, my message is, go out and get vaccinated when a vaccine becomes available in your country. Ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and sustaining the public health measures are the critical priorities to overcome this crisis,” Moeti said.
“Feb. 14 marks one year since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Africa, so today we will look back over a year of achievements, challenges, and learning as Africa responded to the pandemic,” she said.
In the first year of this pandemic, more than 3.7 million cases have been reported in Africa.
According to the WHO official, the continent is projected to pass a devastating mark of 100,000 lives lost to this virus in the coming week.