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Africa's Omicron-driven fourth pandemic wave flattens: WHO

Africas Omicron-driven fourth pandemic wave flattens: WHO

United Nations/Geneva: Africa's fourth pandemic wave, driven primarily by the Omicron variant, is flattening after a six-week surge, the WHO has said even as it stressed that the shortest-lived surge to date in the continent was "steep and brief but no less destabilising."

The new Omicron variant was first reported to the WHO from South Africa on November 24. The World Health Organisation (WHO) on November 26 declared it as a variant of concern.

Early indications suggest that Africa's fourth wave has been steep and brief but no less destabilising. The crucial pandemic countermeasure badly needed in Africa still stands, and that is rapidly and significantly increasing COVID-19 vaccinations. The next wave might not be so forgiving, WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the WHO said, After a six-week surge, Africa's fourth pandemic wave-driven primarily by the Omicron variant is flattening, marking the shortest-lived surge to date in the continent where cumulative cases have now exceeded 10 million.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus voiced concern that even though more than 9.4 billion vaccine doses have now been administered globally, 90 countries did not reach the target of vaccinating 40 per cent of their populations by the end of last year, and 36 of those countries have not yet vaccinated 10% of their populations.

More than 85 per cent of the population of Africa about one billion people - is yet to receive a single dose of vaccine, he said. We cannot end the acute phase of the pandemic unless we work together to close these gaps, he said.

Last week, more than 15 million new cases of COVID-19 were reported to WHO from around the world by far the most cases reported in a single week, with Ghebreyesus calling it an underestimate.

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