- Over 3 000 deaths recorded during the first week
- WHO says that the surge is the fastest since May last year
- Botswana registers 3 845 cases
The emergence of the Omicron variant has precipitated the fourth wave of COVID-19 on African continent, the Regional Director for Africa at the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Matshidiso Moeti, has said.
“Africa is now officially in the fourth wave of the pandemic, which is partly due to Omicron variant,” Moeti said when briefing the media in Brazzaville, the capital city of the Republic of Congo, recently.
“There has been 83 percent surge in the new recorded cases in the continent compared to previous weeks. This is the fastest surge recorded since May last year. However, we are cautiously optimistic though, as we are seeing few deaths during the early weeks of the fourth wave as compared to the previous wave during the early weeks.”
To quantify the extent of the scourge so far, Dr Moeti said over 3 000 deaths were recorded during the first week of the fourth wave, which is the half number recorded in the same period during the third wave.
“Additionally, the evidence from South Africa shows that while hospitalisations have increased by almost 70 percent in the past seven days, Intensive Bed Care Unit occupancy rates remain low. However, with the number of new cases hitting record highs as rates double every five days, we cannot afford to drop our guns.”
So far cases of Omicron have been reported in 59 countries, including 11 in African, with Botswana registering 3 845. Currently 10 745 cases are active while 193 452 have recovered while 2 425 are deceased.
The omicron variant was first detected in Botswana on 22 November 22 this year when four cases were detected among travellers who tested positive in routine pre-travel testing.
Meanwhile, launching Arm Ready Festive Campaign styled “Ke Nna Ke Wena” last week, the Minister of Health and Wellness (MoH), Dr Edwin Dikoloti, told the nation that the fourth wave was beginning to knock.
“Through this campaign, we want to encourage all those still hesitating to go for COVID-19 vaccinations to reflect once more on their position and think about their lives and those of their loved ones,” the minister said.
“I therefore urge each Motswana to make COVID-19 prevention their personal responsibility. Let us take a position that we will not take part in increasing COVID-19 cases this festive season.”