Africa suffers record number of COVID-19 cases

African nations combined saw a daily average of 36,141 new COVID-19 cases from 28 June to 4 July as the pandemic flares up across the continent, surpassing the 32,609 daily cases registered in early January, during the previous high point of the virus.

A Tunisian patient infected with COVID-19 is pictured at the intensive care unit of the Aghlabide hospital in the east-central city of Kairouan on 4 July 2021. Tunisia placed the capital Tunis and the northern town of Bizerte under a partial lockdown from until 14 July in a bid to rein in record daily coronavirus cases and deaths. Picture: FETHI BELAID/AFP

PARIS - Africa has suffered a record number of coronavirus cases over the past week, registering over 36,000 new infections per day, according to an AFP count based on official figures.

African nations combined saw a daily average of 36,141 new COVID-19 cases from 28 June to 4 July as the pandemic flares up across the continent, surpassing the 32,609 daily cases registered in early January, during the previous high point of the virus.

South Africa is the worst-hit country in Africa, with new daily infections hitting record highs of 26,000 cases over the weekend, fuelled by the highly contagious Delta variant which first surfaced in India.

The daily figures across Africa had fallen under 8,000 in mid-May but have marched upwards since then. Last week's figures were a 23% increase on the previous week.

Part of the problem is that African countries are suffering from a crippling shortage of COVID-19 vaccines.

According to the AFP count, just 3.66 vaccine doses have been administered for every 100 Africans. The corresponding figure in the US and Canada is 100.26, while in Europe it stands at 68.3.

Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's regional director for Africa, has warned that "the speed and scale of Africa's third wave is like nothing we've seen before".

After South Africa, the other African nations worst affected by the new surge are Tunisia with an average of 5,230 cases per day, a rise of 52%, and Zimbabwe with 1,150 daily cases, a whopping 72% rise over the previous week.

In terms of cases per 100,000 residents, the Seychelles has the worst record in the world with 754 daily cases over the past week, which was actually a fall of 25%.

Namibia suffered 433 cases per 100,000 people over the same period, a rise of 10%, while Tunisia's daily figures were 52% up at 310 per 100,000.

The number of deaths from coronavirus is also on the rise in Africa, with an average of 748 fatalities per day, a surge of 43% over the previous week. That figure is still lower than the 906 deaths recorded between 18-24 January across the continent.

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