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Africa marks worst pandemic week; Europe sees sharp rises

Africa marks worst pandemic week; Europe sees sharp rises

Africa just experienced its worst pandemic week, with 16 countries reporting resurgences, World Health Organization (WHO) officials said yesterday, as some countries in Europe report weekly rises topping 100%.

Africa rise amid promising vaccine news

At a WHO African regional office media briefing yesterday, its leader, Matshidiso Moeti, MBBS, said cases have risen for 7 weeks in a row and have now topped the peak of the second surge, with the fast-moving third wave continuing to gain speed.

Of the 16 countries reporting sharp rises, 10 have highlighted the more transmissible Delta (B1617.2) SARS-CoV-2 variant. Malawi and Senegal are the latest countries to report surges.

Moeti said, however, that vaccine delivery is showing signs of progress after nearly grinding to a halt in May and early June. Over the past 2 weeks the region has received 1.6 million doses through COVAX, with 20 million more expected soon from the United States and significant donations in the coming weeks from Norway and Sweden.

“With much larger COVID-19 vaccine deliveries expected to arrive in July and August, African countries must use this time to prepare to rapidly expand the roll-out,” she said, noting that less than 2% of Africa’s population is fully vaccinated.

Sharp spikes in more European countries

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in its weekly communicable disease threat report that cases increased 62.7% over the week before, with the highest spikes in Luxembourg, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Denmark, and the Netherlands. New cases in those countries was up 100% to 200% compared with the week before.

Eight countries have reported 2,535 cases related to Euro 2020 soccer competition. Several host cities have reported recent rises in COVID activity, including St Petersburg, Baku, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Glasgow, and London.

So far, no infections have been reported among players on the national teams.

In other European developments, new weekly assessments today from UK health officials say the Delta variant made up 99% of sequenced cases over the past week, and secondary attack rates appear to be falling, but are still higher for Delta than for the Alpha (B117) variant. They added that although the risk of hospitalization seems to be higher, early data do not show signs of increased severity once patients are hospitalized with Delta variant infections.

Public Health England also posted an assessment of the Lambda (C37) variant, first seen in Peru last August. It said the variant has shown the capacity for wider spread in South America, with some global transmission. So far, however, it hasn’t shown the capacity to outcompete the Delta variant.

More global headlines

  • Several countries reported new daily record highs for cases, including South Korea, Thailand, Bangladesh, and Tunisia. In South Korea, officials raised COVID measures in Seoul to the highest level short of a full lockdown. And Tunisia’s health ministry said the health system has collapsed and the country is in a catastrophe.
  • In Australia, New South Wales state today reported 44 more local cases, with new restrictions announced for the Sydney area, which is already in a lockdown, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Stepped-up restrictions include limiting outdoor exercise to two people at a time, no carpooling with outside households, and limiting funeral attendance to 10 people.
  • The global total today rose to 185,841,190 cases, and 4,014,270 people have died from their infections, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

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