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Africa surpasses 100,000 COVID-19 deaths

Africa surpasses 100,000 COVID-19 deaths
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Coronavirus-related deaths in Africa surpassed 100,000 on Friday, as a second wave of coronavirus infections overwhelmed hospitals, according to reports.

A total of 100,354 deaths in connection to the novel coronavirus have been reported from the continent and are comparably lower than Europe's reported 900,000 and North America's over half a million, according to Reuters.

Though numbers have not been as high as other continents, Africa's surge in coronavirus deaths has been led by its southern region and South Africa's more contagious COVID-19 variant.

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“The increased number [of infections] has led to many severe cases and some of the countries really found it quite difficult to cope,” Richard Mihigo, coordinator of the immunization program at the World Health Organization’s Africa office, told the news outlet.

Countries near South Africa, including Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, have seen the most severe rise in deaths, increasing concerns that the South Africa variant had spread through the region.

Africa's coronavirus case fatality rate is reportedly around 2.6 percent, which has increased from 2.4 percent since the first wave of infections hit the continent and is higher than the global average of 2.3 percent, according to Reuters.

The aid group Doctors Without Borders has called for urgent vaccine distribution to the continent as it has fallen behind in vaccinations compared to Western nations, according to Reuters. 

Experts have stated that Africa's data could be slightly skewed due to low testing rates in some countries. 

“If deaths being registered as COVID-19 deaths are not necessarily contingent on a positive test ... as is the case in South Africa, then this can drive up [cause fatality rate],” Professor Francisca Mutapi, an infectious disease expert at the University of Edinburgh, told Reuters.

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Despite the way that deaths have been reported, Africa CDC Director John Nkengasong told Reuters that hospitals on the continent are becoming more overwhelmed treating coronavirus patients now than during the first wave.

“Are we counting all the deaths on the continent? No ... but most people on the continent do know somebody who has died of COVID during this second wave,” he said.

“Hospitals are being overwhelmed due to health systems that are fragile.”