The Daily Telegraph

South Africa surge in cases ‘warning to rest of continent’

- By Our Foreign Staff

THE World Health Organisati­on has voiced alarm at the spread of Covid-19 in Africa, warning that South Africa’s surging numbers could be a “precursor” to outbreaks across the continent.

“I am very concerned right now that we are beginning to see an accelerati­on of disease in Africa,” Michael Ryan, WHO’S emergencie­s chief, told a virtual press conference on Monday.

Until recently, Africa had remained relatively unscathed by the pandemic compared with other parts of the world, with more than 15,000 deaths and close to 725,000 cases. But the situation has become increasing­ly worrying, particular­ly in South Africa.

The country, which over the weekend saw its death toll from coronaviru­s pass 5,000, has had over 350,000 infections, and is by far Africa’s hardest hit. Mr Ryan said it could be seen as “a warning” for the rest of the continent.

“While South Africa is experienci­ng a very, very severe event, I think it is really a marker of what the continent could face if urgent action is not taken to provide further support,” he said.

Mr Ryan pointed out that South Africa’s outbreak began earlier than those in a number of other African countries.

South Africa’s numbers had risen by 30 per cent in the past week, he said. Numbers in Kenya had increased by 31 per cent, in Madagascar by 50 per cent, in Zambia by 57 per cent and in Namibia by 69 per cent, he said.

“I think what we are starting to see is a continued accelerati­on of transmissi­on in a number of countries,” he said.

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