Covid-19 cases in Africa have now topped 3 million and daily cases have surpassed the peak of the first wave, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The continent is now faced with “emerging variants” of the virus, WHO Africa said in a statement on Thursday.
On average, 25,223 cases were reported each day across the continent from December 28 to January 10, according to the release. These numbers are “nearly 39% higher than the July 2020 two-week peak of 18,104 daily average cases,” it added.
The UN body cautioned that the worst may be yet to come, saying that Africa’s numbers “may rise further in the coming days in the wake of travelling, gathering and festivities over Christmas and New Year holidays.”
The WHO said that the new variant of the virus first discovered in South Africa is “accounting for most of the new infections during the second wave.”
“Genomic sequencing has found the variant present in Botswana, the Gambia and Zambia” the release added.
Despite no indications thus far of the presence of the another variant, first found in the UK, on the African continent, “further investigation is needed,” according to the WHO.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa commented that “even if the new variant is not more virulent, a virus that can spread more easily will put further strain on hospitals and health workers who are in many cases already overstretched.”
Moeti called on all African countries to “increase testing and sequencing of the virus to swiftly spot, track and tackle new COVID-19 variants as soon as they appear.”
“To defeat an agile, adaptive and relentless enemy, we must know and understand its every move, and double down on what we know works best against all variants of the virus.”