By Cecilia Ologunagba
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says Africa has marked its worst pandemic week ever, as cases rose for seven consecutive weeks since the start of the third wave in May.
Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said this while briefing correspondents at the UN headquarters in New York, on Thursday, on the COVID-19 situation in Africa..
The UN Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Guterres had emphasised the urgent need for the world to put a Global Vaccine Plan in place to bring the pandemic under control, as the death toll passed the four million mark on Wednesday.
Dujarric said during the week ending July 4th, more than 251,000 new cases were recorded – a 20 per cent increase over the previous week.
“They warned that the worst is yet to come, with the end to the precipitous rise in cases still weeks away.
“WHO said there are signs of progress on the vaccine front, with COVAX deliveries to Africa picking up pace.
“In the past two weeks, more than 1.6 million doses were delivered, and an additional 20 million doses are expected to arrive soon from the United States, through COVAX,’’ he said.
According to the UN health agency, 16 African countries are now in resurgence, with Malawi and Senegal added this week, noting that the Delta variant had been detected in 10 of these countries.
On the situation in Malawi, Dujarric said the UN team in Malawi, led by Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres Macho, was working to help Malawian authorities address the multiple effects of the pandemic.
The spokesperson said COVID-19 infections in the country had risen sharply in the past month and the government had been restricting travel and public gatherings to reduce the spread of the virus.
“To address the vaccine shortage, WHO and UNICEF are facilitating the delivery of the remaining 900,000 vaccine doses through COVAX.
“The agencies are also helping authorities to intensify the screening of travellers, testing and contact-tracing. We have provided nearly 10,000 testing kits.
“The UN team is working to promote the prevention of the spread of COVID-19, through communications campaigns and community engagement.
“We have also provided cash transfers to more than 100,000 of the most vulnerable people to cushion the economic impact of the virus,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, on South Sudan, Dujarric said the UN peacekeeping mission reported an important opportunity to inject fresh momentum into the peace process to deliver on stability, peace, and prosperity that the country’s citizens deserve.
He said it would be an important opportunity to inject free impetus to the peace process ahead of the country’s 10th anniversary on Friday.
“The UN Mission says that while significant progress has been made since the signing of the 2018 peace deal, the implementation of the revitalised agreement is slow and peace remains fragile.
“It remains fragile with a lack of a unified security force, insecurity due to inter-communal fighting and crime driven by economic deprivation,’’ he said.