As cases in southern Africa rise, health officials worry about drop in testing

On Thursday, public health officials in Africa expressed concern that a drop in surveillance and testing for the coronavirus, as well as...


On Thursday, public health officials in Africa expressed concern that a drop in surveillance and testing for the coronavirus, as well as the easing of public health measures, would make it more difficult to detect. and responding to new waves as cases rise in parts of the continent.

The outbreak has mainly occurred in southern Africa, where cases have increased significantly over the past week, according to the World Health Organization. On Wednesday, new cases reported in South Africa rose 80% from the average two weeks ago and deaths rose 44%, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Many countries on the continent have reported far fewer tests administered, which could make it difficult to track new waves, said Dr. Abdou Salam Gueye, director of emergency preparedness and response at the regional office of the for Africa.

“It makes us a bit blind to what exactly the situation is,” he said during the weekly WHO Africa briefing, adding that African countries should “put in place a system that will help in more detection. early and to a better response to Covid-19″. ”

Although testing levels have dropped in South Africa, public health officials have been able to detect an increased virus load by testing sewage, said Dr Kerrigan McCarthy, a specialist pathologist at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases in South Africa.

Meanwhile, the distribution and use of vaccines in Africa has also been slow. the first factory in Africa authorized to produce Covid-19 vaccines for the African market has not received any orders and could close this production line within weeks if the situation does not change, according to the leaders of the company Aspen Pharmacare.

The main driver of the latest wave is the Omicron variant and the highly transmissible BA.2, BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, WHO officials said. People in South Africa are still required to wear masks indoors, including in schools, and the government is still limiting the size of public gatherings. But as winter approaches in the southern hemisphere, the country’s most onerous social distancing and other public health restrictions have been rolled back.

Pandemic measures were relaxed “primarily for economic reasons, and not necessarily for medical or public health reasons”, Dr McCarthy said.

Despite the growing number of known cases, there are promising signs. Hospitalizations in South Africa have remained low, according to the WHO And deaths, a lagging indicator, have increased at a slower rate than cases.

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Newsrust - US Top News: As cases in southern Africa rise, health officials worry about drop in testing
As cases in southern Africa rise, health officials worry about drop in testing
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