AFRICA – The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa reached 5,669,873 as of Monday noon, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.

The Africa CDC, the specialized healthcare agency of the 55-member African Union, said the death toll from the pandemic stands at 146,401 while 4,924,099 patients across the continent have recovered from the disease.

South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Ethiopia and Egypt are the countries with the most cases in the continent, according to the Africa CDC.

South Africa has recorded the highest COVID-19 cases in Africa at 2,062,896 while the northern African country Morocco reported 534,550 cases as of Monday, it was noted.

In terms of the caseload, southern Africa is the most affected region, followed by the northern and eastern parts of the continent, while central Africa is the least affected region in the continent, according to the Africa CDC.

The healthcare agency has, furthermore, expressed its concern toward an apparent discriminatory policy by the European Union in travel bans for people vaccinated with the World Health Organization-backed AstraZeneca vaccine produced in India.

The Green Pass is a vaccine passport that allows people to travel within the EU, as long as they have had one of four certified vaccines: Pfizer/BioNtech, Moderna, Vaxzervria by AstraZeneca-Oxford and Janssen by Johnson&Johnson. It will also provide data about whether the person had Covid, has recovered or was recently tested.

While Vaxzervria, the AstraZeneca vaccine produced and authorized in Europe, is on the EU list, Covishield, produced under license by the Serum Institute of India and largely distributed in Africa is excluded.

At least one percent of Africa’s population has been fully vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, Covishield.

“It came as a big surprise to us that a vaccine that had been financially supported by the Europeans, will not be allowed on the list of vaccines that were recognized through the Green Pass process in Europe,” said Dr Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

Even so, African nations continue to be vigilant against spread of infections. Uganda has introduced new penalties for offenders of the country’s COVID-19 prevention procedures.

A statutory instrument dubbed Public Health (Control of COVID-19) rules 2021, signed by Health Minister Ruth Aceng, said that if one is found guilty of not wearing a facial mask while in public places, he or she will face a jail term of two months.

Every person shall, at all times, while outside his or her place of residence, wear a facial mask,” the instrument issued on Friday said.

The instrument also said that any COVID-19 positive individual who escapes from a designated isolation unit faces imprisonment for two months on conviction.

In Zimbabwe, the ministry has identified capital Harare and the country’s second-largest city Bulawayo as the regions facing the highest risk of a deadly third wave of COVID-19 infections and deaths.

It is suspected that the proximity of Bulawayo and Matabeleland South to South Africa, which is currently experiencing a resurgence in infections, may be a contributing factor.

The warning comes following reports that the southern African country’s seven-day rolling average for infections surged from 13 to 900 per day in 14 days. Zimbabwe has reported more than 54,000 confirmed cases and more than 1,800 deaths, according to ministry figures.

Schools are not being spared either as 136 students in a high school in Ghana have been infected with the COVID-19 Delta variant, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) confirmed on Sunday.

“We are doing the strategic testing of day students so that the infection does not spill into the community,” Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, director general of the GHS, said.

Ghana first confirmed six cases of COVID-19 Delta variants among passengers arriving in the country on June 22.

As of Sunday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country has increased to 96,317.