COVID-19 moving at its fastest pace yet across Africa as cases have risen for 8 straight weeks and deaths rose 43% in the week ending July 11, from 4,384 to 6,273, WHO reports.
Hardest hit: Namibia, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia accounted for 83% of the new deaths recorded in the past week.
Dire shortages of health workers, oxygen, ventilators, and ICU beds have hospitals in the worst-hit countries at a “breaking point,” says WHO Africa chief Matshidiso Moeti.
For many of these countries, game-changing treatments proven elsewhere—like corticosteroids and medical oxygen—are simply not available.
O2 shortage: Boosting oxygen production is a top priority to help the sickest survive, Moeti said. A WHO assessment of 6 hard-hit nations found that just 27% of the medical oxygen needed is being produced.
In South Africa: Widespread rioting set off by former President Jacob Zuma’s imprisonment will contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in an already “very severe wave,” Moeti warned, Bloomberg reports.
The Impact: In KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces, 90+ pharmacies have been destroyed and looted of COVID-19 vaccines and other medicines, Bhekisisa reports.
- Patients have been left without medications for diabetes, HIV, and other conditions—adding to their risk of severe COVID-19
- Most vaccination sites in KwaZulu-Natal have been shuttered
- Blocked roads are stopping oxygen from reaching hospitals