The World Health Organization (WHO) is becoming increasingly concerned with the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and has warned that Africa may be on the brink of a dire situation.

Speaking during the weekly WHO digital conference, executive director of Emergencies Programme Dr Mike Ryan said they are especially concerned with the COVID-19 situation in Africa, and that the rate of transmission in South Africa may be a precursor to how infections will accelerate on the rest of the continent.

While South Africa has the largest amount of confirmed cases, it’s acceleration is not faster than other African countries – it only increased by 30% in the last week. Ryan noted that many African countries like Botswana, Zambia and Namibia have a larger weekly percentage of acceleration although their total numbers are smaller.

The doctor explained that this is largely because South Africa’s outbreak began earlier than other African countries, and is now in the later stages of the virus.

“What we’re starting to see is a continued acceleration of transmission in a number of countries in sub-saharan Africa and I think that has to be taken very, very seriously,” he said.

“South Africa may unfortunately be a precursor, it may be a warning for what will happen in the rest of Africa, so I think this isn’t just a wake up call for South Africa. We need to take what is happening in Africa very very seriously.

“Many of those countries exist in the midst of fragility and conflict, many of them need external help and support.”

Ryan added that even though South Africa has the largest number of confirmed cases, it’s acceleration is not faster than other African countries as it has only increased by 30% in the last week. Many African countries have a larger weekly percentage of acceleration.

According to the Africa Center for Disease Control, the continent has recorded a cumulative 721 563 cases of which 383 195 people have recovered and 15 169 have died. The majority of cases are from Southern Africa.

South Africa has a cumulative total of 373 628 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which 194 865 have recovered which translates to a recovery rate of 52%. On Monday, July 20 the country recorded 9300 new cases. The cumulative number of deaths to date is 5 173.

Gauteng is currently the epicentre of the virus in the country. Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize warns that KwaZulu-Natal’s cases are sharply rising, and may soon become the province with the second highest active cases, overtaking the Western Cape.

WHO warns of surge in COVID-19 cases in Africa

Picture: screenshot from livestream

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