President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana has expressed fears that COVID-19 infection rates, which include new strains of the virus which have not before seen before in the country, are skyrocketing and filling treatment centres thereby threatening to overwhelm the health system
The number of active cases has risen to 1,924 from about 900 since the year began, Akufo-Addo said in a speech. There are now 120 severe cases, up from 18 a week ago.
Ghana is not yet close to a peak seen during the first wave of infections in the middle of last year, but could quickly reach that level if cases keep rising at the current rate.
The President said if they do, he would impose another partial lockdown, despite worries about what that would do to one of West Africa’s largest economies.
“Our COVID-19 treatment centres have gone from having zero patients to now being full because of the upsurge in infections,” the president said. “At this current rate … our healthcare infrastructure will be overwhelmed.”
Across Africa, a second coronavirus wave is infecting twice as many people per day than at the height of last year’s first wave and has yet to peak, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
The rise has raised concern across the continent where, unlike in Europe and the United States, cash-strapped governments have been unable to secure supply deals with vaccine manufacturers, putting the onus for now on containment.
Akufo-Addo said details about access to vaccines and a rollout plan would be announced “very soon” noting that some people arriving from abroad had tested positive for “new variants” of the virus, without giving details.
“Work is ongoing to determine the presence and extent of spread of the new variants in the general population,” Akufo-Addo said.