‘Zim, Africa ill-prepared for COVID-19 3rd wave’



THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has said a potentially deadly third wave of COVID-19 was imminent at a time when most African countries’ healthcare facilities and personnel were overstretched and grossly underfunded.

In a recent report, WHO said Sub-Saharan African countries were already facing the threat of new COVID-19 variants and could be hit by the third wave in the coming weeks.

Zimbabwe is among countries at risk of being hit by the third wave of COVID-19.

The WHO report stated that worryingly across the continent, doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers were stretched to the limit as the total cumulative number of infections this week rose to above 4,1 million, with more than
110 000 fatalities.

It said this was a sharp rise from the 2,7 million infections recorded at the end of December.

“COVID-19 has heavily jolted the health workforce in the African region. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 267 health worker infections have been recorded on average everyday, translating to 11 new health worker infections per hour,” read the WHO report.

“South Africa leads with more than 1,5 million reported cases and more than 52 000 deaths.  Only 7 000 000 people have now been vaccinated in a continent of more than a billion people,” the report said.

WHO Zimbabwe country representative Alex Gasasira said if people became complacent during the Easter holidays, COVID-19 infections might rise.

Zimbabwe has since embarked on its COVID-19 vaccination programme, which targets 60% of the population or 10 million people in order to achieve herd immunity.

Just over 115 000 people have been vaccinated in over two months since the vaccination programme began.

Gasasira yesterday told NewsDay that the third wave was anticipated in the country, hence the strengthened control measures being taken to ensure that it does not become as deadly as the second wave that was fuelled by travelling between countries and

“One of the things we were worried about this Easter holiday was that people would fail to comply with WHO COVID-19 regulations and want to travel,”he said.

“We are hoping the measures put in place by the government will help in limiting transmission. To complement these efforts is the vaccination programme.”

After Christmas last year, Zimbabwe experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases.

COVID-19 national response taskforce chief co-ordinator Agnes Mahomva said: “We are continuing with the strategies put in place. The public needs to strictly adhere to WHO recommendations, maintaining social distancing and handwashing among other things. We are encouraging everyone to be vaccinated and to observe set standards on managing the spread of COVID-19 as the two main ways in controlling the further spread of COVID-19.”

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