Nairobi, Jun 25 (IANS): The number of Covid-19 cases in Africa has increased at an unprecedented pace as the continent grapples amid the ongoing third wave that has posed a dire threat to the continent's public health infrastructure, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said.
In a statement on Thursday, Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said the continent is grappling with a resurgence fuelled by the easing of containment measures, cold weather and the presence of new variants, reports Xinhua news agency.
"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," Moeti said in the statement.
She said the continent can avert the worst outcomes as it struggles with the third wave of infections, subject to strict adherence to public health protocols combined with speedy vaccine roll-out.
The latest statistics from Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention revealed the continent's caseload has increased to 5,288,323, with 139,226 fatalities.
South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Ethiopia account for 62 per cent of all cases reported in the continent as three major variants drive the uptick.
Moeti said that the Covid-19 cases have been on an upward trajectory in Africa in the last five weeks since the onset of the third wave on May 3 adding that a 21 per cent increase could delay flattening the curve.
She said the pandemic was on resurgence in 12 countries citing unrestricted social interactions and the presence of mutated versions for powering the virus's spread.
According to Moeti, the Delta variant has been detected in 14 African countries and in the last one month, it has been identified in the majority of samples sequenced in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
She said WHO has deployed experts to some of the countries experiencing unprecedented surges including Uganda and Zambia to boost mitigation measures including timely diagnosis and treatment.
Moeti said boosting the capacity of the continent's laboratories to monitor and sequence variants of concern has been prioritised in a bid to reduce the intensity of the third wave.