The region has registered about 1.3 million COVID-19 cases, with over 31,000 deaths reported.
Despite a general reduction in new infections in the past three months, a surge is evident in various countries including in South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.
Health systems are strained, with more COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization, yet PPE for health-care workers remains limited.
In November, over 2,500 health-care workers were infected; as a result of this, health worker unions are threatening industrial action that could lead to further disruption of existing services.
Countries across the regions are discussing the availability and roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines; the WHO, Africa CDC, African Union and other partners, are engaging governments on issues such as resource requirements and distribution modalities. UNFPA is advocating for vaccine access especially to protect health-care workers, the elderly and other vulnerable groups.
The socio-economic impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt by the most vulnerable.
More than 45 million people are facing moderate to severe levels of food insecurity in Southern Africa alone, with Zimbabwe being the most affected country. Migrants have resumed their move in search of livelihoods within and out of the region, further exposing them to COVID-19 and other vulnerabilities owing to movement restrictions.
The conflict in Tigray region, Ethiopia, since early November, has forced more than 45,000 people to flee to Sudan for refuge, and additional 1.1 million people remain in need of humanitarian assistance due to the conflict. The conflict has also disrupted COVID-19 response in Tigray and neighbouring regions, which could potentially result in an upsurge of new cases.