WHO: Africa seeing uptick in COVID cases driven by South Africa

A woman wearing a disposable white beard mask, to protect against coronavirus, stands outside the entrance of a supermarket in Soweto, South Africa, March 26, 2020 [Themba Hadebe/AP Photo]

South Africa remains the country that has recorded the most infections and deaths in Africa since the pandemic began.

Africa is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases largely driven by a doubling in cases reported in South Africa, the World Health Organization has said.

“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 on Thursday.

“This uptick is largely associated with the increasing number of cases reported from South Africa as the country enters its winter season when respiratory illnesses become more prevalent,” Impouma added.

Africa has 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.

“Just in the last week the country’s (South Africa’s) cases have doubled, and there is a small increase in hospitalisations. Although the Omicron variant continues to mutate, there is no current evidence to suggest that this new upsurge is linked to any new sub-lineages or a new variant,” the WHO’s Impouma said.


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