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Africa CDC to launch COVID-19 community surveillance system

The Africa Centers for Diseases Control (CDC) and Prevention says it is launching a community surveillance system across Africa, to better control COVID-19 outbreaks.

The continent is experiencing increased numbers of infections and new variants of the disease amid low vaccine supplies. It has so far registered 7.9 million cases, with Southern Africa taking the lead.

The Africa CDC says so far 41 countries in the continent are experiencing the 3rd wave of COVID -19 infections, while four are already in the 4th wave. The health agency says there is a possibility of a new wave every two or three months before the continent vaccinates 60% of its 1.3 billion people to achieve herd immunity.

Director of Africa CDC  Dr. John Nkengasong says, “Just over the period of the 4th wave from July to the beginning of August it accounted for 3 million new infections. Imagine as a continent we are reporting 7.9 million infections and 3 million alone have occurred in a month. And the rates were up by 39% in the same period and accounting for about 68 000 new deaths. That is the shock that the waves bring to the human side and economy. ”

The Africa CDC hopes through persistent community surveillance systems with the use of antigen tests, states will effectively monitor the level of infection as well as hot spots.

“Say so for example if we do community surveillance in one community of Addis Ababa and we are doing that systematically and the positivity rate is 9% this month and we do a repeat test and it is 12%, it means something is going on in that community, we can either do an enhanced campaign there for people to ensure that there are public health measures to slow it down. What we really don’t want to be seeing is suddenly you reduce the peak of the pandemic to a certain level maintain it for two months then you see these spikes that overwhelm our health systems.”

As testing remains very low, so does the vaccine supply.

The continent has so far received 145.4 million doses of vaccines, with just 3% of the population having received inoculations. At least 20 million more doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccines are expected to be supplied to over 40 countries this month. The doses are being manufactured by Aspen, a company based in South Africa.

The World Health Organisation has asked high-income countries that have promised to donate more than 1 billion doses to developing nations including those in Africa, to honour their word.

It says so far less than 15 % of those doses have materialised.

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