Covid-19 cases in Africa have begun to plateau in the last two weeks, Dr. Abdou Salam Gueye, director of regional emergencies for WHO Africa, said in a virtual briefing on Thursday.
"Encouragingly, after a six-week surge, Africa's fourth pandemic wave that has been primarily driven by the Omicron variant has recorded its first drop in cases... this marks the shortest life surge to date on the continent," he said, while cautioning that underreporting during the holiday period could be a factor.
East, central and southern Africa have reported a decrease in cases in the week ending on January 9th, while cases in west and northern Africa have risen.
Deaths across the continent have risen 64% in the same week compared to the previous week, mainly in infected high-risk people, although deaths in the fourth wave remain lower than previous waves.
In South Africa, where the wave has been less severe with less hospitalizations, "we are still seeing very serious infections and admissions in patients who are unvaccinated and also in patients who have comorbidities and this includes the elderly population," said South African pulmonologist Anita Graham.
Around 10% of Africa's population has been vaccinated, according to Dr. Gueye.