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COVID-19: Omicron cases confirmed in 22 African nations



The African Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC) on Thursday confirmed that the new variant of COVID-19, Omicron, has spread to 22 countries on the continent.

An official of the agency, John Nkengasong, confirmed the development to journalists in Brazzaville, Congo.

He said: “As of Thursday, 22 countries have reported the presence of the Omicron variant. We can see clearly: the Omicron is spreading very quickly.”

Just a month after South Africa first discovered the more infectious variant, it has now been detected as far as Egypt, Togo, Morocco, Kenya, Mauritius, and Burkina Faso.

Nkengasong, however, said there were grounds for optimism, pointing to initial findings from South Africa that Omicron posed up to 80 percent less risk of severe disease compared to the Delta variant.

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He cautioned against applying the early findings to other countries.

Across Africa, 253,000 new COVID-19 infections were recorded last week, a 21 percent increase on the previous week.

South Africa accounted for the majority, with 141,000 cases.

The continent has now procured nearly 446 million vaccine doses, but only 10.9 percent of the population in Africa was double-vaccinated against the pandemic.

However, there were stark regional differences, in Morocco, for example, 72 percent of the population has had two jabs, compared to 26 percent in South Africa.

The Africa CDC is trying to pool the resources of countries on the continent and coordinate measures to combat the pandemic.

According to the agency, around 9.2 million cases had been documented in Africa to date, of which more than 226,530 were fatal.

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