Many African nations increase Covid restrictions amid fourth pandemic wave

2021-12-28 14:06:17
Many African nations increase Covid restrictions amid fourth pandemic wave

Across Africa, countries are reporting a surge in Covid cases, and health officials worry about how the new Omicron variant will affect the world’s least-vaccinated continent.

Omicron, which was first detected in southern Africa, remains highly contagious, but so far it is causing fewer deaths and hospitalizations than previous variants such as Delta.

In just the past three weeks, the percentage of Kenyans who tested positive for the coronavirus jumped from less than 1 percent to more than 30 percent — the country’s highest positivity rate yet.

In Uganda, nearly 50 lawmakers and their staff members, some of them vaccinated, tested positive this week after attending a sports tournament in neighboring Tanzania.

And in Zimbabwe, skyrocketing infections have pushed the government to institute new restrictions on businesses and incoming travelers.

The latest wave comes as many African countries were beginning to reopen and businesses were hoping for a robust holiday season — only for governments to reintroduce curfews and quarantines and impose new vaccine mandates.

“We are unfortunately going to be celebrating the end-of-the-year holiday season in the middle of the fourth wave that’s sweeping across the continent,” Dr. John N. Nkengasong, the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a news conference on Thursday.

At least 21 African countries are now experiencing a fourth wave of the pandemic, according to the Africa C.D.C. Three countries — Algeria, Kenya and Mauritius — are undergoing a fifth one.

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