Africa’s Covid 2nd wave was worse but saw fewer measures

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PARIS, March 25, 2021 (BSS/AFP) – Africa experienced a 30-percent rise in
infections in its second wave of coronavirus last year but implemented fewer
public health measures than in the first, research showed Thursday.

Writing in The Lancet medical journal, researchers said a loosening of
public health measures such as distancing and intermittent lockdowns probably
contributed to higher death tolls during the second wave.

The study looked at Covid-19 case, death, recovery and test data carried
out across all 55 African Union member states between February 14 and
December 31 2020.

Using publicly available data, it also analysed health control measures
such as school closures and travel restrictions.

At the end of 2020, the continent had reported nearly 2.8 million Covid-19
cases — three percent of the global total — and just over 65,000 deaths.

Daily new cases during the first wave numbered 18,273. During the second
wave this figure stood at 27,790 — a 30 percent rise.

Among the 38 nations that experienced a pronounced second wave and for
which control measures were available, the study found that almost half had
fewer measures in place compared with the first.

“This first comprehensive analysis of the pandemic in Africa provides
greater insights into the impacts of COVID-19 on the continent as a whole,
and within its diverse regions,” said Justin Maeda, from the Africa Centres
for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

“Better understanding of the challenges posed at national, regional, and
continental levels are essential for informing ongoing efforts to tackle
current outbreaks and future waves of infections.”

The researchers said it was highly likely new variants had contributed to
higher case loads across the continent’s second wave.

The highest incidences of cases per 100,000 population were recorded in
Cape Verde (1,973), South Africa (1,819), Libya (1,526), Morocco (1,200), and
Tunisia (1,191), the study showed.

And while African Covid-19 cases were not overall more deadly than the
global average, this varied greatly between nations. Of the 53 countries
that reported more than 100 Covid-19 cases, one third had case fatality
ratios — the proportion of deaths compared to total cases — higher than the
global average of 2.2 percent.

“These insights reveal a need to improve testing capacity and reinvigorate
public health campaigns,” said John Nkengasong, a study author and virologist
who is also director of Africa CDC.