Relaxing public health measures likely contributed to the higher cases, according to research published in The Lancet.
Africa saw a 30% increase in infections in its second wave of coronavirus last year, but implemented fewer public health measures than in the first, research showed Thursday.
Writing in the medical journal The Lancet, the researchers said easing public health measures such as distancing and intermittent lockdowns likely contributed to the increased death toll in Wave 2.
The study looked at data on COVID-19 cases, deaths, recovery and testing carried out in the 55 African Union member states between February 14 and December 31, 2020.
Using publicly available data, he also analyzed health control measures such as school closures and travel restrictions.
By the end of 2020, the continent had reported nearly 2.8 million cases of COVID-19 – three percent of the global total – and just over 65,000 deaths.
The daily new cases in the first wave were 18,273. In the second wave, that number was 27,790, a 30% increase.
Of the 38 countries that experienced a pronounced second wave and for which control measures were available, the study found that almost half had fewer measures in place than the first.
“This first comprehensive analysis of the pandemic in Africa provides better information on the impacts of COVID-19 on the continent as a whole and in its various regions,” said Dr Justin Maeda, African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. diseases (Africa CDC).
“A better understanding of the challenges at the national, regional and continental levels is essential to inform on-going efforts to tackle current outbreaks and future waves of infections.”
The researchers said it was very likely that new variants contributed to an increase in the number of cases in the continent’s second wave.
The highest incidences of cases per 100,000 inhabitants were recorded in Cape Verde (1,973), South Africa (1,819), Libya (1,526), Morocco (1,200) and Tunisia (1,191), according to the study.
And while Africa’s COVID-19 cases were not overall deadlier than the global average, it varied considerably from country to country.
Of the 53 countries that have reported more than 100 cases of the virus, a third had case fatality rates – the proportion of deaths to the total number of cases – above the global average of 2.2 percent.
“This information reveals the need to improve screening capacity and to revitalize public health campaigns,” said John Nkengasong, study author and virologist who is also director of Africa CDC.