African countries from Uganda to South Africa are buckling under a ferocious third wave of coronavirus infections as the continent falls far behind the rest of the world in vaccinations. The rolling seven-day average of new African cases rose to about 25,000 a day last week from 7,000 in the middle of May, according to data from Africa’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Doctors have warned of dwindling hospital beds and oxygen supplies as more than a dozen nations are reporting their worst levels of infection since the pandemic began, just as they are struggling to launch mass rollouts of vaccines.
“We are not winning for sure. Each time you get a wave the peak is worse than the previous one,” said John Nkengasong, director of Africa’s CDC.
“What haunts me a lot is the Indian scenario which could very well happen in Africa . . . we are not out of the woods yet,” Nkengasong added, referring to a deadly second wave in India that overwhelmed the country. Out of just over 5m confirmed cases in Africa to date, about 1m cases were recorded in the past month, according to Africa CDC figures. About 138,000 deaths have been officially recorded on the continent since the start of the pandemic last year.
South Africa, where the health ministry said recorded infections have surged from 800 per day at the start of April to more than 13,000 per day in June, has dominated the resurgence with what President Cyril Ramaphosa has called an “extraordinarily rapid and steep” rise. With estimated excess deaths rising in South Africa in recent weeks, Ramaphosa has imposed restrictions on movement.