Nairobi , February 12 : The number of COVID-19 related deaths in Africa has spiked as the continent grapples with local transmission of highly contagious strains of the virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.
Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said the death toll from the pandemic increased by 40 percent in January, fuelled by a second wave of infections and new variants that have overwhelmed the continent's public health systems. "The increasing deaths from COVID-19 we are seeing are tragic, but are also disturbing warning signs that health workers and health systems in Africa are dangerously overstretched," Moeti said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
She said that the death toll linked to the pandemic is expected to hit 100,000 by Sunday as the continent marks one year since the first positive case was confirmed in Egypt.
"This grim milestone must refocus everyone on stamping out the virus," said Moeti, adding that flattening the curve in Africa will take longer amid low vaccination rates combined with the emergence of new variants.
Statistics from WHO indicate that over 22,300 COVID-19 deaths were reported in Africa in the last 28 days, compared to nearly 16,000 in the previous 28 days.