The number of cases of COVID-19 in Africa has been increasing, driven by the doubling of cases reported in South Africa and highlighted by the World Health Organization. Officials warned citizens across the continent to get vaccinated.
Africa had been experiencing a lull in COVID cases, with the WHO earlier this month pointing to the longest-running decline in weekly infections on the continent since the start of the pandemic.
But last week cases started to pick up in South Africa — the country that has recorded the most infections and deaths in Africa to date — and health authorities there are monitoring for signs of a fifth infection wave.
“This week new COVID-19 cases and deaths on the continent increased for the first time after a decline of more than two months for cases and one month for deaths,” Benido Impouma, director for communicable and non-communicable diseases at the WHO’s Africa office, told an online news conference.
Impouma said there was no evidence as yet to suggest the rise in cases was linked to any new sub-lineages or a new coronavirus variant.
Separately, the WHO also said on Thursday that Africa was witnessing a surge in outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases including measles, polio and yellow fever.
“The rise in outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable diseases is a warning sign. As Africa works hard to defeat COVID-19, we must not forget other health threats,” WHO Africa director Matshidiso Moeti said in a statement.