Africa has recorded the lowest number of coronavirus cases and deaths since the pandemic began, marking the longest decline yet seen in the disease, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.
COVID-19 infections due to the omicron surge had “tanked” from a peak of more than 308,000 weekly cases to fewer than 20,000 last week. Cases and deaths fell by 29% and 37% respectively in the last week; deaths decreased to 239 from the previous week, the U.N. health agency said in a statement on Thursday.
“This low level of infection has not been seen since April 2020 in the early stages of the pandemic in Africa,” WHO said, noting that no country in the region is currently seeing an increase of COVID-19 cases.
“There is a high risk of another wave of new infections”, the agency warned as winter is approaching for Southern Hemisphere countries.
“With the virus still circulating, the risk of new and potentially more deadly variants emerging remains, and the pandemic control measures are pivotal to effective response to a surge in infections,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Africa director.
Africa was among the least affected by the pandemic despite repeated warnings from WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus that the virus would devastate the continent.
Scientists have speculated that Africa’s young population, the lower incidence of chronic diseases and warmer climate, may have helped it avoid a bigger wave of disease.