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28 June 2021updated 03 Sep 2021 1:43pm

How Covid-19 is surging in Africa

In 28 African countries, the number of new Covid cases recorded each day has more than doubled since 15 May.

By Ben van der Merwe

Cases of Covid-19 are rising in 32 countries across Africa, with major outbreaks on the continent’s northern and southern extremities. In 28 countries, the number of new cases recorded each day has more than doubled since 15 May. In 12 of those, cases have grown more than ten-fold.

Africa’s third wave may be its worst yet
Daily new confirmed cases, rolling seven-day average

Source: Our World in Data

The number of new daily cases in South Africa, which is at the epicentre of the continent’s latest outbreak, has grown six-fold since 15 May. Despite representing just 4 per cent of Africa’s population, the country has been responsible for half of all new cases in recent days.

South Africa’s outbreak has now spread to neighbouring Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, all of which have seen rapid increases in case numbers.

[See also: “It’s not fair”: Rwanda’s health minister on vaccinating G7 children ahead of Africa’s elderly]

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The re-emergence of Covid-19 in South Africa has been attributed to the spread of the Delta variant, which is significantly more infectious than the previously-dominant Beta variant. The government has ordered a two-week ban on the sale of alcohol in order to free up hospital beds for the anticipated rise in hospitalisations. Fewer than 1 per cent of South Africans aged 70 and older are fully vaccinated, compared to 49 per cent in the UK. 

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[See also: International coronavirus vaccine tracker: how many people have been vaccinated?]