Jul 2, 2021 - World

COVID cases surge in Africa due to Delta variant

A doctor holds a COVID-19 test.

City of Tshwane health workers doing free Covid-19 testing on June 30 in Pretoria, South Africa. Photo: Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images via Getty Images

The number of new coronavirus cases in Africa is doubling every three weeks as the continent faces a wave of Delta variant infections, the World Health Organization announced Thursday.

Why it matters: The COVID-19 variant first discovered in India has been reported in 16 African countries and is dominant in South Africa, which accounted for over half of Africa’s cases for the week ending in June 27.

  • The variant was detected in 97% of samples in Uganda and in 79% of samples in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the World Health Organization said citing the latest country reports.
  • Only 15 million people — just 1.2% of the continent's population of 1.3 billion — are fully vaccinated.

By the numbers: South Africa reported more than 20,000 new cases on Friday.

What they're saying: Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, said the "speed and scale of Africa’s third wave is like nothing we’ve seen before."

“The rampant spread of more contagious variants pushes the threat to Africa up to a whole new level,” Moeti said in a statement. “More transmission means more serious illness and more deaths, so everyone must act now and boost prevention measures to stop an emergency becoming a tragedy.”

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