Highly contagious coronavirus variants are fuelling a surge in infections in Africa, the World Health Organization warned Thursday.
Africa has so far been hit less hard by the pandemic than most other regions, with 135,885 deaths from 5,107,939 cases so far, according to official figures.
But the WHO left little doubt that things are changing.
“Africa is in the midst of a full-blown third wave. The sobering trajectory of surging cases should rouse everyone into urgent action,” Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, told an online news conference.
The UN health agency said a lack of adherence to social distancing and other measures had fuelled the new surge, along with cold winter weather in southern Africa and the spread of more transmissible variants.
In 22 African countries, cases rose by more than 20 percent in the week to June 13, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Namibia and Uganda reporting their highest levels of new weekly cases since the pandemic began, according to WHO data.
Moeti called the situation “an urgent wake-up call” for faster vaccination rollouts in Africa against Covid-19. Less than one percent of the continent’s population has been fully vaccinated so far.