Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Covid-19 infections soar as 15 African countries now grapple with Delta variant

Fifteen African countries have now reported the prevalence of the Delta variant of Covid-19, with overall infections on the continent rising to nearly six-million people, the director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control (Africa CDC) DrJohn Nkengasong said on Thursday 8 July.

In a weekly media briefing, Nkengasong said South Africa made up around 37% of the total caseload, with more than two-million cases reported. At the same briefing, MTN group chief executive Ralph Mupita spoke about the “one more push” campaign on which the multinational mobile telecommunications company and Africa CDC will be collaborating. 

‘We shall overcome this’

Responding to a question about soaring infection numbers as South Africa battles with its third wave of the pandemic, Nkengasong said: “We shall overcome this. South Africa has done this before, this is the third time South Africa will be bending the curve nicely, so we shall overcome, and we have to overcome.”

He said as of 9am on Thursday, 5.7-million Covid-19 cases had been reported across Africa. In the last week alone, 254 000 new cases were reported, a 2% average increase from the previous week. Of these new cases, 71% were in southern Africa. The five countries reporting the highest numbers of new cases were South Africa, Tunisia, Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe, Nkengasong added.

Also in the last week, 505 197 new deaths were reported across the continent, up 43% from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, there has been a 28% increase in new deaths reported. In South Africa, a 39% average increase of new deaths has been reported, while Ethiopia, Egypt and Nigeria have been showing a steady decrease in fatalities.

Of the 23 countries in Africa reporting a third wave of infections, 13 are in the throes of a severe third wave. Nkengasong confirmed that the new Delta variant was largely contributing to the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa, but stressed that the current recommended safety measures of washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing were effective measures against this and all other strains.

To date in Africa, the Delta variant first reported in India has surfaced in Algeria, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

On 1 July, Johnson & Johnson announced that its Covid-19 vaccine showed strong, persistent immune activity against the Delta variant so far. Data shows that the durability of the immune response lasted at least eight months, which is as long as the immune response durability has been evaluated so far.

The real challenge, according to Nkengasong, is the delayed roll-out of vaccines on the African continent. By 5 July 5, 70.4-million vaccine doses had been procured by 52 member states of the African Union. Of these, 53.3-million doses, or 75%, had been consumed. Of the vaccine doses procured by South Africa, 42% have been used. 

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Cape Flats gangsters, children die in fight over turf

Extortion rackets are part of a corrupt system that includes religious leaders, councillors, police and syndicates

Tobacco farmers want the taxman to do more to control...

The Black Tobacco Farmers’ Association the introduction of a minimum price level for cigarettes

More top stories

COMING UP: Ramaphosa addresses the nation

The president is expected to provide an update on lockdown regulations

Cape Flats gangsters, children die in fight over turf

Extortion rackets are part of a corrupt system that includes religious leaders, councillors, police and syndicates

Father and son abandon gangs to start a project of...

After spending more than 40 years in a life of gangsterism, Ralph Haricombe’s life changed after his son asked him to change his life

Predators: Beauties or beasts?

How farmers perceive jackal and caracal — as ‘beautiful’ or ‘thieves’ — determines whether they will tolerate them on their livestock farms

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…