There is evidence that the death rate is on the rise for those in Africa infected with Covid-19.
And while in some countries the total number of new cases has declined, in others it remains persistently high, with many of these cases likely being related to new strains of the virus.
At least 40 countries, including all countries in the area of southern Africa, have now seen a second outbreak of the pandemic, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control (CDC).
“This new wave of infections is thought to be associated with the emergence of variants that are more transmissible.”
A new strain of the virus, known as 501.V2, emerged last year in South Africa and, according to the World Health Organization, has led to record case numbers in the southern African region (WHO).
According to the WHO, “Initial analysis indicates that the variant… may spread more readily between people,”
It does not, however, tend to cause more serious illnesses.
In South Africa itself, after a second high, daily new case numbers have begun to fall dramatically. And because there are far more cases in South Africa than anywhere else on the continent, according to the CDC, this has resulted in an overall decline of 17 percent in cases across the continent.
Scientists have also found a new form of the virus in Nigeria, although they state there is currently a new variant of the virus
although they say there is currently no evidence to indicate it is contributing to increased transmission.
However, cases in Nigeria have been on the rise since early December, and are only just starting to trend downwards.
However, the numbers have started to level off (the WHO data excludes Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia).
During the first stage of the pandemic, Africa’s overall fatality rates -the proportion of those with Covid who then die – were lower than those elsewhere in the world.
There were a number of theories put forward as to why that might be the case, such as the relatively younger population, and possible cross-immunity from other coronaviruses.
But the Africa CDC has now warned about rising fatality rates in the continent, saying that of the 55 countries they monitor, 21 are now reporting fatality rates above the current global average of 2.2%.
The fatality rate for Africa has crept up since July last year when it was 2.1% – to 2.5% currently.
It’s worth pointing out that the global fatality rate has also come down since the start of the pandemic, which in itself would put more African countries above the global average.
And fatality rates are affected by how much testing is done – a country with low levels of testing will show a higher death rate because many non-fatal Covid cases are going undetected.