Arthur Greene

“The second wave is here with vengeance and our systems are overwhelmed”

These are the words of John Nkengasong, the director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Until now, he has led the continent’s fight against Covid-19 with relative success.

Now, hospitals across Africa are becoming overwhelmed as the virus tears its way across the continent, from the south up.

This dramatic Increase in cases has coincided with the emergence in November of the aggressive new South African strain of the virus.

It is driving infections in South Africa’s neighbouring countries, such as Zimbabwe, and has been found thousands of miles away in countries such as Ghana.

The Wall Street Journal reports that supplies of oxygen are now running out. In Zimbabwe and Nigeria, a black market for oxygen canisters has reportedly emerged – loved ones of the ill are being forced to outbid each other for the now-valuable commodity.

For the first time since the pandemic began, the continent’s death rate has moved above the global average – and this is despite the data being often very poor beyond capital cities. It could be much higher.

With economic hardship and public fatigue on the rise, here are some of the crises currently taking hold north of the Limpopo:

  • While the virus rages on, the continent’s leading denialist, President John Magufuli of Tanzania (above), has warned against “dangerous” Covid-19 vaccinations.
  • In Zimbabwe, four cabinet ministers have now died of the virus, three within the last two weeks.
  • In Nigeria, the air force is manufacturing an emergency oxygen supply as shortages are forcing medics to ration air and in some cases deny treatment.
  • Hospital beds are running out in Zambia and Uganda, which is forcing many people to be treated at home.
  • Only the island states of Mauritius and the Seychelles have started administering vaccines, while the world’s richest countries have rolled out over 40 million.
  • In the Democratic Republic of Congo, severe power outages are disrupting the treatment of record numbers of Covid-19 patients in some hospitals.

Image source: @MagufuliJP

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