NAIROBI (BLOOMBERG) – The highly contagious Covid-19 delta variant may spark a fourth wave of infections in Kenya over the next two months, according to the East African nation’s Health Ministry.
The rapidly transmissible strain, first identified in India, is dominant in western Kenya, where it was initially identified in the country. The government imposed restrictions on movement in the region to try and stem it from spreading nationwide.
“If there’s a fourth wave in July-August, it will most likely be due to delta,” said Mr Patrick Amoth, the acting director-general for health at the ministry.
Restrictions in western Kenya were imposed to try and “avoid a catastrophic fourth wave,” he said by phone.
A new wave in Kenya would follow surges in cases in several African countries, including South Africa, Uganda and Namibia.
In South Africa, where the delta variant is dominant in the commercial hub of Gauteng, President Cyril Ramaphosa tightened containment measures. Uganda closed its parliament for two weeks and said the army will help ramp up production of oxygen, given a spike in demand.
Infection cycles could continue for a longer period in Africa as it lags behind the rest of the world in vaccination amid a shortage of doses, logistical challenges and hesitancy.
Only about 0.8 per cent of the population of Namibia is fully vaccinated, and it is the country where the infection rate over the last week was the highest in Africa.
Kenya had 183,603 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 3,621 deaths as at Tuesday (June 29), according to the Health Ministry. About 1.3 million people have been inoculated so far, of whom 328,848 received their second doses.
The Alpha variant, first identified in Britain, dominated Kenya’s third wave which peaked in March-April. The Beta strain, first detected in South Africa, and Alpha account for about 70 per cent of the cases in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi currently, according to Mr Amoth.