The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned Sub Saharan countries that they face threats of new COVID-19 variants and could be hit by the third wave in the coming weeks.
In a report, WHO said a potentially deadly third wave of COVID-19 was imminent at a time most African countries’ healthcare facilities and personnel were overstretched and grossly underfunded.
Zimbabwe is among countries at risk of being hit by the third wave of COVID-19.
The WHO report stated that across the continent, doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers were stretched to the limit as the cumulative number of infections this week rose to above 4,1 million, with more than 110 000 fatalities.
It said this was a sharp rise from the 2,7 million infections recorded at the end of December last year.
“COVID-19 has heavily jolted the health workforce in the African region. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 267 health worker infections have been recorded on average everyday, translating to 11 new health worker infections per hour,” read the WHO report.
“South Africa leads with more than 1,5 million reported cases and more than 52 000 deaths. Only 7 000 000 people have now been vaccinated in a continent of more than a billion people,” the report said.
The government has since embarked on its COVID-19 vaccination programme, which targets 60% of the population or 10 million people in order to achieve herd immunity.
About 100 000 people have been vaccinated in over two months since the vaccination programme began.
COVID-19 national response taskforce chief co-ordinator, Agnes Mahomva said the government will continue putting strategies in place.
“The public needs to strictly adhere to WHO recommendations, maintaining social distancing and handwashing among other things. We are encouraging everyone to be vaccinated and to observe set standards on managing the spread of COVID-19 as the two main ways in controlling the further spread of COVID-19,” she said.