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86% of COVID-19 infections in Africa go unnoticed – WHO

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About 86 per cent of all coronavirus infections in Africa go unnoticed, the World Health Organization reported on Thursday.

The WHO puts the number of all infections on the continent at 59 million, over seven times more than the eight million reported cases.

It said: “The high number of unreported cases can be explained by the fact that health facilities have so far focused on testing people. People with symptoms of the disease has led to extensive under-reporting.”

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said with limited testing, the continent is flying blind in far too many communities.

“By comparison, the United States, with about a third of the population, had conducted more than 550 million tests.

“While Britain, with less than 10 per cent of Africa’s population, had conducted more than 280 million tests.”

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In total, more than 8.4 million coronavirus cases have been recorded in Africa, including 214,000 deaths.

According to WHO data, less than half of the African countries that received vaccines have fully vaccinated an average of about two per cent of their population.

dpa/NAN. “By comparison, the United States, with about a third of the population, had conducted more than 550 million tests.

“While Britain, with less than 10 per cent of Africa’s population, had conducted more than 280 million tests.”

In total, more than 8.4 million coronavirus cases have been recorded in Africa, including 214,000 deaths.

According to WHO data, less than half of the African countries that received vaccines have fully vaccinated an average of about two per cent of their population.

dpa/NAN.

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Nigeria leads with 27% of global malaria deaths – WHO

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Nigeria accounted for 27 per cent of the global malaria deaths in 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

The group in its world malaria report released on Monday said six countries, including Nigeria, recorded a total of 50 per cent of malaria deaths worldwide in 2020.

The WHO, in its latest report, said there was an estimate of 241 million malaria cases and 627,000 malaria deaths — mostly of children under five — worldwide in 2020.

The 2020 figure represents about 14 million more cases in 2020, compared to 2019, and 69,000 more deaths.

In the report, Nigeria was also among six countries that accounted for 55 per cent of all cases worldwide.

“About 96% of malaria deaths globally were in 29 countries. Six countries – Nigeria (27%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12%), Uganda (5%), Mozambique (4%), Angola (3%) and Burkina Faso (3%) – accounted for just over half of all malaria deaths globally in 2020,” the report reads.

“Twenty-nine countries accounted for 96% of malaria cases globally, and six countries – Nigeria (27%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12%), Uganda (5%), Mozambique (4%), Angola (3.4%) and Burkina Faso (3.4%) – accounted for about 55% of all cases globally.”

According to the report, the COVID pandemic disrupted malaria services, leading to a marked increase in cases and deaths.

The WHO, in a statement, said the situation could have been far worse, adding that at the beginning of the pandemic, it had projected that – with severe service disruptions – malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa could potentially double in 2020.

It, however, noted that many countries took urgent action to shore up their malaria programmes.

The Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said this year’s world malaria report surveyed the extent of damage by the COVID pandemic on the global malaria response.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, global gains against malaria had levelled off,” he said.

 

“Thanks to the hard work of public health agencies in malaria-affected countries, the worst projections of COVID’s impact have not come to pass.

“Now, we need to harness that same energy and commitment to reverse the setbacks caused by the pandemic and step up the pace of progress against this disease.”

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Mass Exodus: CMDs seek emergency health workers replacement policy

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The Committee of Chief Medical Directors and Medical Directors of federal tertiary hospitals has called for a clear policy on the emergency replacement of health workers without waiting for waivers.

In a communiqué issued after its 96th regular meeting and 10th annual general meeting Saturday in Abuja, the committee said the policy should be implemented by the chief executives of federal tertiary health Institutions.

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The association in the communiqué which was read by its outgoing president, Dr Jaf Momoh, said the mass exodus of health workers from their hospitals has become worrisome.

The committee also said no effort should be spared to control the potential spread of the omicron COVID-19 variant in the country, adding that hospitals are well equipped to manage cases.

Daily Trust

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‘Omicron could have originated in HIV patients’

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The surprising number of mutations in the Omicron Coronavirus (COVID-19) variant could signal that it originated in a patient with HIV or another immunodeficiency, a top German immunology expert said.

Carsten Watzl, secretary general of the German Society for Immunology, told dpa that it was not only conceivable but also probable, citing similar findings that have been published in other cases.

The virus can replicate over many weeks in people with weakened immune systems, Watzl said.

“During this process, there can be repeated isolated mutations which may not give the virus any advantage, but could nevertheless continue to multiply due to the immune system’s failure to control them,” he said.

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He said this could lead to additional mutations, which in combination could be an advantage for the virus.

Compared to the original strain of coronavirus which first surfaced in Wuhan, China, Omicron has an unusually high number of about 30 amino acid changes in the spike protein alone.

Some of the mutations are known to be associated with greater transmissibility and immune evasion, but Watzl said it is still not clear what effect this particular combination of mutations will have.

Many HIV patients in Africa do not receive adequate treatment, which is why their systems are significantly weakened, Watzl said.

To prevent the spread of variants as extensively mutated as Omicron, it would be important to identify infected immunocompromised people and isolate them until they are no longer infectious, he said.

“Because even if the virus mutates severely in a person, it is the passing on of the mutated virus that is really dangerous,” he said.

(dpa/NAN)

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