South Africa Makes Up Over 30 Percent of COVID Cases Reported on Continent

South Africa made up over 30 percent of Africa's reported COVID-19 cases with 20,000 reported on Friday for a total of 1.9 million, with 66,323 deaths, according to the Associated Press.

Hospitals in South Africa's epicenter of Johannesburg and the surrounding Gauteng province reached 91 percent capacity, and over 5,000 additional health workers were deployed, the health department announced Friday.

"With this new strain in the third wave, I think it's more aggressive than the second one," said Onthatile Mmusi, a nurse at Tshepong Hospital in Klerksdorp. "We tend to get patients and when they come in their oxygen levels are already down."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

South Africa, 30% of Africa's Covid Cases
A health worker wearing personal protective equipment takes down the details of a woman before being tested for COVID-19 at the Fourways Life Hospital in Johannesburg on June 28, 2021. South Africa accounts for 30 percent of Africa's COVID-19 cases. Emmanuel Croset/Getty Images

Driven by the Delta variant, a new wave of COVID-19 is sweeping across the African continent where new cases, hospital admissions and deaths are increasing.

South Africa is leading the new surge in Africa, where case numbers are doubling every three weeks, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

"The speed and scale of Africa's third wave is like nothing we've seen before," said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO's regional director for Africa.

The Delta variant, reported in 16 African countries, has become dominant in South Africa, which accounts for more than half of Africa's new cases. It was detected in 97 percent of samples sequenced in Uganda and in 79 percent of samples sequenced in Congo, said WHO.

"The rampant spread of more contagious variants pushes the threat to Africa up to a whole new level," Moeti said in a statement. "More transmission means more serious illness and more deaths, so everyone must act now and boost prevention measures to stop an emergency becoming a tragedy."

Less than 2 percent of Africa's 1.3 billion people have received even one dose of a vaccine.

Staff at Tshepong Hospital, about 170 kilometers (105 miles) southwest of Johannesburg, said they are battling to cope with the new surge.

South Africa, 30% of Africa's COVID Cases
People line up to get tested for COVID-19 at the Fourways Life Hospital in Johannesburg on June 28, 2021. South Africa has been hit the worst in a third wave of infections, this one containing the Delta variant, that has swept across Africa. Emmanuel Croset/Getty Images