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African Covid deaths skyrocket as official toll nears 100,000

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Deaths from Covid-19 in Africa have risen by 40 per cent in the past month, pushing the official death toll to near 100,000 as the pandemic escalates dramatically on a continent which had largely been spared the catastrophic effects seen elsewhere.

Thirty-two countries reported a rise in deaths in the last 28 days, said the World Health Organization (WHO) as it published the statistics on Thursday.

“The second wave, which appears to have peaked in January, has been far more lethal than the first. The increasing deaths from Covid-19 we are seeing are tragic, but are also disturbing warning signs that health workers and health systems in Africa are dangerously overstretched,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Africa director, told a press briefing.

Theere are also widespread concerns that many Covid-19 deaths on the continent are not being counted. A study conducted in a Zambian morgue, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, suggested many deaths from the virus may have not been registered at all due to a lack of testing.

“Covid-19 cases were under reported because testing was rarely done, not because Covid-19 was rare. If our data are generalisable, the impact of [Covid-19] in Africa has been vastly underestimated,” the study authors, from Boston University, wrote.

Main Photo: A woman hold a placard urging members of the public to ‘mask up, sanitise, keep social distance and to stay safe’ to combat the covid -19 pandemic, during a funeral in Harare, Zimbabwe. EPA-EFE/AARON UFUMELI

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