The World Health Organization says new efforts are needed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as scientists try to identify the risks associated with the new omicron variant. Low vaccination rates, coupled with population fatigue due to safety measures, are putting more and more people in Africa at risk.
Experts say it’s no surprise that a new variant of the coronavirus has been discovered.
Less than 8 percent of Africans are vaccinated against COVID-19, creating an environment for the disease to spread and mutate.
Dr. Mary Stephen is a Technical Officer for the Africa Office of the World Health Organization.
She said that in the absence of vaccines, the public needs support to support other efforts to reduce the spread and save lives.
“We cannot get tired; we must continue to make sure we adhere to masking rules, keep our distance, avoid unnecessary mass gatherings, and maintain good hand hygiene as another layer of protection in addition to vaccinations, ”she said.
Last week, South African scientists discovered a variant of the omicron.
Research is currently underway to determine how much it is transmitted and how it responds to vaccines.
Amid uncertainty, the UK, the US and the European Union have responded with travel bans in southern Africa.
Stephen, however, said that the option has already crossed continents and that the termination of flights to African countries, where travel trials have been conducted for a long time, is the wrong reaction.
“The world must react to them in solidarity. The solution is not to ban travel, but our ability to identify these cases, identify potential risks, mitigate risks, while we continue to facilitate international travel because we have seen the devastating economic impact of COVID, ”she said.
Jeremiah Chukudu is all too familiar with the economic fallout from the pandemic.
The 45-year-old Uber driver said two of his cars were seized last year because he could no longer afford payments during the lockdown.
Tshukudu said he fears he is about to take another financial hit with the new option.
“I see that we are losing about, say, 50% of what we have been earning recently. If you rely on Uber, the business has fallen, which means that I will not be able to provide for my family, ”he said.
Despite the impact of the pandemic on him, Chukudu said he was still hesitant to get vaccinated.
With the threat of a new option, experts hope that people like him will change their minds.
Dr. Michelle Groom works at the National Institute for Infectious Diseases of South Africa.
“I hope you know, with some concern about the forthcoming fourth wave, I hope you know that those who have been stranded can actually go and get vaccinated,” she said.
More than 3,200 people in South Africa tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, significantly more than the day before.
The government is campaigning to get more people vaccinated and is even offering food coupons to those who get vaccinated.
Government figures show that at least 41 percent of South Africa’s adult population is currently vaccinated.