Africa remains the continent with the lowest vaccination rates. In nearly half of the African countries that have received Covid-19 vaccines, only 2 percent of the population or less has been fully vaccinated, according to the W.H.O.
With limited testing available, Dr. Moeti said, many communities in Africa were “flying blind,” with asymptomatic people passing on the virus without being aware that they have it.
In a bid to curb transmission, she announced a community-based initiative to enhance coronavirus testing in eight countries: Burundi, Ivory Coast, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Senegal and Zambia. The initiative includes wider use of antigen detection, a relatively inexpensive type of test that yields results in around 15 minutes, and a “ring-based” strategy of voluntary testing for anyone living within 100 meters of a positive case.
Dr. Moeti said coronavirus cases appeared to be trending “downward or plateauing” in most African countries, though some were still reporting increases, including Angola, Gabon, and Cameroon. In Rwanda, which had enforced one of the continent’s strictest lockdowns, bars resumed normal operations in late September after being closed for 18 months.
Several African countries are also dealing with outbreaks of other infectious diseases, including the deadly Ebola virus. Ivory Coast confirmed its first Ebola case in almost 30 years in August, and the Democratic Republic of Congo has since reported two fatal cases of Ebola, Dr. Moeti said. Guinea had an outbreak early in the year.