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Africa: Continent Urged to Remain Alert Over Coronavirus Into Holiday Season

Nearly 20 African countries have reported a 20 per cent increase in new cases in the past one month according to the World Health Organisation. The agency issued a warning of a possible surge in Covid-19 cases as families plan end-of-year festivities.

After reporting a downward trend then a plateau, Africa has been experiencing a rise in cases since early October and the WHO said the latest increase is driven by the North African region, where temperatures are falling unlike the first wave of cases, which was triggered by hotspots in Southern Africa.

Overwhelmed facilities

The WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti called for vigilance in the next few weeks to avert a further surge that could overwhelm health systems. In particular, he cited Kenya, Morocco and South Africa where infections have been increasing.

“As we near the time of year when people spend their holidays together, there is a bigger risk of Covid-19 transmission. WHO is worried a new cluster of cases could emerge in places that have so far been unaffected as people travel or gather for festivities,” said Dr Moeti.

Speaking last week at a virtual press conference, Dr Moeti said 19 countries in Africa have reported an over 20 percent increase in new cases in the past 28 days compared with the previous four weeks.

However, 17 countries are also reporting a more than 20 per cent drop in the number of new cases over the past 28 days, compared with the previous four weeks.

Rwanda has closed 25 coronavirus treatment centres across the country following a successful reduction in positive cases. Only seven treatment cases now remain active, and the Ministry of Health is confident these are enough to handle critically ill patients across the country.