Africa now has more than three million coronavirus cases, with the numbers spiking as new variants of the virus spread through the continent, the World Health Organization said Thursday.
From Dec. 28 to Jan. 10, a daily average of 25,223 cases were reported, WHO said in a statement, according to CNN. That two-week stretch was a 39% increase from the peak in July of 18,104 cases.
The health organization said those numbers may get worse as the impact of the holiday season becomes apparent in the following weeks.
A new strain of the novel coronavirus found in South Africa accounted for much of the recent spike, WHO officials said.
“Genomic sequencing has found the variant in Botswana, the Gambia and Zambia,” the officials said, CNN reported.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa, called on African countries to increase testing and sequencing of the virus to quickly confront new strains.
“Even if the new variant is not more virulent, a virus that can spread more easily will put further strain on hospitals and health workers who are in many cases already overstretched,” Moeti said, CNN reported. “To defeat an agile, adaptive and relentless enemy, we must know and understand its every move, and double down on what we know works best against all variants of the virus.”