COVID-19 spike worsens Africa's severe poverty, hunger woes

Harare: Outside a foreign currency exchange in Zimbabwe's capital, hordes of people desperate for US dollars are pushed up against each other.

That's it, keep it tight, some shout, trying to prevent others from jumping the line to buy the money that could get them a discount on goods pegged to a quickly devaluing local currency.

Nearly two years into a global pandemic, a new spike in coronavirus cases driven by the Omicron variant is once again shuttering businesses, halting travel, reviving fears of overwhelmed hospitals and upending travel and holiday plans in countries around the world. But in Zimbabwe and other African nations, the virus's resurgence is threatening the very survival of millions of people who have already been driven to the edge by a pandemic that has devastated their economies.

When putting food on the table is not a given, worries about whether to gather with family members for the holiday or heed public announcements urging COVID-19 precautions take a back seat.

Yes, I have heard of the new variant, but it can never be worse than having nothing to eat at home right now, says furniture store clerk Joshua Nyoni, one of the dozens waiting outside the exchange.

Like many others in the chaotic crowd, Nyoni alternately wears his face mask below his chin or puts it in his


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