The World Health Organization (WHO) says the continent of Africa surged past two million total COVID-19 cases this week because of large family gatherings, workplace interactions, and gatherings related to elections occurring in several countries.
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the 54-nation continent passed the two million cases mark this week, and, as of Thursday, Africa has 2,013,388 total COVID-19 cases and 48,408 deaths. Its infections and deaths make up less than four percent of the global total.
Speaking to a WHO meeting remotely from the Republic of Congo capital, Brazzaville, WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said cases had increased for the past 28 days in 19 countries in the region, including Ghana, Kenya and Angola and Algeria.
Moeti said people were starting to relax and not observe restrictions.
“There's a certain level of fatigue around this and the upcoming holiday season may simply exacerbate the situation," she said.
Moeti said WHO was launching a new campaign called “Mask Up Not Down” to urge people to wear face masks and use them properly. She hoped the largely social media campaign would reach some 40 million young people across the continent by the end of the year.
South Africa is the continent's worst-affected country with 750,000 confirmed cases of the virus, while Morocco has more than 300,000, Egypt more than 110,000 and Ethiopia more than 100,000.
Kenya is the latest concern as it now sees a fresh surge in cases. At least four doctors died there on Saturday, leading a powerful health union in the country to threaten a nationwide strike starting next month.