Africa recorded an additional 1 million coronavirus cases in the past month, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa said Thursday.
Matshidiso Moeti said it "is the shortest time it’s taken so far to add one million cases."
"Comparatively, it took around three months to move from 4 million to 5 million cases," she said.
Moeti said 18 African countries are now in resurgence. The Delta variant, which is currently the most transmissible of all variants, has been detected in 21 countries.
"As this surge sweeps across Africa, we are witnessing the brutal cost in lives lost. Deaths have climbed steeply for the past five weeks, jumping 40% in the past week," she said.
Moeti said health systems that were already struggling to provide essential services to communities prior to the pandemic, are now buckling under the pressure of the virus.
"We’ve seen hospital admissions in around 10 countries increase rapidly and at least five countries, including South Africa, Namibia and Zambia, are facing shortages of ICU beds," according to the health official.
"The number one priority for African countries is boosting oxygen production so we can give critically ill patients a fighting chance. Effective treatment is the last line of defense against COVID-19 and it must not crumble," she said.
There are more than 6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases on the continent with an excess of 5.2 million recoveries and 153,000 deaths, according to the WHO.