Africa is facing a fast-surging third wave of COVID-19 pandemic, with cases spreading more rapidly and projected to soon overtake the peak of the second wave the continent witnessed at the start of 2021.
COVID-19 cases have risen for five consecutive weeks since the onset of the third wave on 3 May 2021. As of 20 June–day 48 into the new wave–Africa had recorded around 474 000 new cases–a 21% increase compared with the first 48 days of the second wave. At the current rate of infections, the ongoing surge is set to surpass the previous one by early July.
The pandemic is resurging in 12 African countries. A combination of factors including weak observance of public health measures, increased social interaction and movement as well as the spread of variants are powering the new surge. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda that are experiencing COVID-19 resurgence, the Delta variant has been detected in most samples sequenced in the past month. Across Africa, the variant–first identified in India–has been reported in 14 countries.
“The third wave is picking up speed, spreading faster, hitting harder. With rapidly rising case numbers and increasing reports of serious illness, the latest surge threatens to be Africa’s worst yet,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. “Africa can still blunt the impact of these fast-rising infections, but the window of opportunity is closing. Everyone everywhere can do their bit by taking precautions to prevent transmission.”