Africa is seeing a surge in Covid-19 cases mainly triggered by new variants of the virus and slow vaccination rates, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday, during a press conference.
In the last month, officials said, case numbers have continued to rise, pushing the number of cases on the continent over the five million mark since the start of the pandemic.
According to WHO data, the current rate of infection was nearly close to last July’s peak and nearly half of the deadlier second wave in January this year.
The number of deaths rose by nearly 15 per cent last week, with 2 200 recorded across 36 countries.
Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Namibia have all recorded their highest rates of weekly cases. The Delta variant, first detected in India, is now prevalent in 14 countries.
“Africa is in the midst of a full-blown third wave. The sobering trajectory of surging cases should rouse everyone into urgent action. We’ve seen in India and elsewhere just how quickly Covid-19 can rebound and overwhelm health systems,” said WHO Africa regional director Dr Matshidiso Moeti.
While the recorded total death toll on the continent – 136 030 – is still lower than other regions, the surge in infections is made more perilous by the slow rate of vaccine rollout in Africa.
Nearly 12 million Africans have been vaccinated, less than 1% of the continent, official statistics indicate.
“If we are to curb the third wave, Africa needs doses here and now,” Moeti noted.
Worrying trajectory expected in more countries
Like the Southern Africa region, reports indicate that more countries including Rwanda are seeing a surge in daily cases recorded.
In the past 24 hours, Rwanda recorded 422 cases, with a positivity rate of 7.3, numbers that were last recorded in August last year.
While the country has managed to curb high death rates and infection rates, officials fear that the current trajectory could take a turn for the worst.
Rwanda has recorded 29,597 cases since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country, with only 2828 active cases.
A total of 377 people have lost their battle with the virus, while nine remain in critical condition.
If compliant, however, health officials have reassured the public that the ongoing countrywide vaccination campaign aligned with observing Covid-19 protocols could potentially contain the virus infections.
Nearly 3.25 per cent of Rwandans have been vaccinated with the number expected to shoot up to 5 per cent by the end of this month.