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CORONA VIRUS

Covid-19 Infections In Africa’s Second Wave 30% Higher – Survey

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African countries’ easing of Covid-19 controls and the emergence of more transmissible coronavirus variants fueled a second wave of infections more severe than the first, according to a study published in The Lancet journal.

Rapid and coordinated government responses likely limited the impact of the virus on the continent in the early stages of the pandemic, wrote authors including Stephanie Salyer, an adviser to Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many countries implemented strict controls more than two weeks before reporting their first case, they said.

Yet daily infections were about 30% higher during Africa’s subsequent second wave, as lockdown measures were loosened amid economic necessity and adherence to basic health protocols declined, according to the study.

The authors analyzed cases and tests carried out across all 55 African Union member states between Feb. 14, 2020 and Dec. 31, when more than half of these countries had or were experiencing a resurgence of infections.

While notable variants only emerged near the end of that period, they are likely to have at least partly driven the surge, they said.

More than three quarters of the continent’s more than 65,000 recorded Covid-19 deaths have occurred in South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria.

Cases throughout Africa contributed about 3% of the global total in 2020.

Bloomberg

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CORONA VIRUS

Italy Reopen Bars, Restaurants, Concert Halls

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Reports from Italy indicate that Bars, restaurants, cinemas and concert halls have partially reopened across Italy on Monday.

This major shift comes at a time the country has registered a total of 3.96M covid-19 cases since last year. Of these cases, 3.38M have recovered and 119000 deaths recorded.

The vaccination programme is gaining pace with more than 17.5 million jabs administered so far in a population of around 60 million, but there are disparities between regions.

Therefore in a boost for covid-19-hit businesses these bars and other crowding businesses have reopened, as parliament debates the government’s U$266 billion) EU-funded recovery plan.

After months of stop-start restrictions imposed to manage its second and third waves of COVID-19, Italy hopes this latest easing will mark the start of something like a normal summer.

Three-quarters of regions will drop into the low-risk “yellow” categories from Monday, with bars and restaurants permitted to restart table service outside – including, for the first time in six months, in the evening, although a 10pm curfew remains in place.

Cinemas and concert halls can also open at 50 per cent capacity, followed by the staggered opening of swimming pools, gyms, sporting events and theme parks by Jul 1.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi has been under intense pressure from regional governments and increasingly regular street protests to ease restrictions, as Italy battles its deepest recession since World War II.

Italy was the first European country to be hit by the pandemic in early 2020 and remains one of the worst affected, with the EU’s highest reported death toll and one of the deepest recessions.

The economy contracted by a staggering 8.9 per cent last year and a million jobs have been lost.

Italy is pinning its hopes on a €220 billion investment and reform plan funded largely by the EU. Italy is the biggest recipient of the bloc’s €750 billion post-pandemic recovery fund. In parliament today, Draghi is scheduled to formally present the programme he hopes will boost growth by 3.6% points by 2026, ahead of a Friday deadline to submit the package to Brussels.

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CORONA VIRUS

WHO Supports Tanzania’s About-turn On Covid-19

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Tanzanian leadership’s about-turn on the coronavirus received support from the World Health Organization and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which could help the country obtain vaccines and start to catch-up with other nations on the continent.

The east African country’s new president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, announced plans earlier this week to appoint a panel of experts to advise her on how best to curb the spread of the virus.

The move is a complete shift from her predecessor’s stance, which was to initially deny the existence of the disease and stop the publication of Covid-19 infection data just months after the pandemic broke out.

The response to the virus by President John Magufuli, who died last month, raised concerns that not only was the local severity of the disease being downplayed, but that there was increased risk of the spread of significant variants that could affect vaccine efficacy across the continent.

“We welcome very sincerely this initiative by the new president of Tanzania, as well as the statements she’s made to the population to ensure people accept the virus is circulating in Tanzania and that she is seeking to understand better the situation,” WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said in a briefing Thursday.

The WHO has been in talks with Tanzania and offered expertise and discussed ways to access Covid-19 vaccines, she said.

In a separate online briefing, Africa CDC Director John Nkengasong said he’s “extremely encouraged with the signals” from Tanzania and that the body has offered clinical assistance.

“They have not officially requested anything from us, but we look forward to engaging with them further as they move forward with this task force,” he said.

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CORONA VIRUS

Professor Niyongabo Warns of Covid-19 Second Wave in Burundi

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For most part of 2020, Burundi government had chosen to ignore existence of covid-19 pandemic and only confided in God as the only shield against the fast spreading virus across the world.

As of Friday, Burundi has officially reported 3,027Total cases, 773 Recovered, and 6 Deaths.

In an exclusive interview with  Burundian Professor Théodore Niyongabo, he opens up slightly on Covid-19 situation in East Africa’s most isolated country and hints that “The vaccine is the only way to control Covid-19”.

Professor Théodore Niyongabo is a specialist in internal medicine and infectious diseases. He looks back on all the current questions related to the pandemic. Here are some excerpts as adapted from local outlet Iwacu.

Faced with the surge of positive cases, can we speak of a second wave in Burundi?

Given the number of cases tested positive for covid-19 on a daily basis, those hospitalized. It is obvious that this is a second wave of contamination.

What do you think is the cause?

Hard to say ! Because the determinants of a wave vary from country to country. Are we in the presence of a new variant, has there been a relaxation somewhere in the population with regard to barrier gestures … The hypotheses are legion.

Once cured, can we be recontaminated? Can we be recontaminated a week after healing?

No, I do not think so. From experience, recontamination is often late. In this regard, the figures are clear.

So far, during the month of February, we have recorded less than 10 cases. Usually, recontamination will take place a year or more later. Granted, this is not yet fully verified, but the facts are there.

If not, can a mother continue to breastfeed her child once she has Covid-19?

Absolutely. In fact, this is what we recommend to them. She should continue to breastfeed. Because breast milk does not transmit Covid-19. But, if the mom has tested positive for the disease, she should wear a mask.

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