Africa has just record its worst week of the pandemic ever, according to the World Health Organisation.
A third wave of infection is sweeping the continent, increasing the pressure on already fragile health systems.
The WHO said during the week ending July 4 there were more than 251,000 cases, a 20 per cent increase on the previous week.
The Organisation’s African Director Dr Matshidiso Moeti said new cases have increased for the seventh week running. “For Africa, the worst is yet to come,” said Dr Moeti.
Southern and eastern Africa is particularly hard hit.
Video footage obtained by CNN of a hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, shows Covid patients on stretchers, overwhelming an emergency room.
“There are patients who are dying while they are waiting to be seen, while they are waiting to go to the ward,” a doctor told CNN on the condition of anonymity.
South Africa is one of 23 countries battling the third wave, driven by the contagious Delta variant.
Just one per cent of the continent is vaccinated, allowing the virus to spread quickly.
World Vision’s head of humanitarian and emergency affairs for East Africa, Joseph Kamara, told 1 NEWS, the third wave is different to the previous ones and people are taking it more seriuously.
“Right now in Uganda, hospitals are full. They don't have anywhere to put patients. Many people are dying in large numbers,” said Mr Kamara.
Christchurch man Stephen Court is back in New Zealand on holiday from Ethiopia where he works for World Vision.
He told 1 NEWS the country is gripped by the “three Cs” – covid, conflict and climate change.
"You put those three things together in a place like Ethiopia, and like we've seen across other parts of Africa, and you have a recipe for a huge storm," said Court.
He said in places like Tigray, where there has been fighting, Covid has pushed development back by decades.
“We have children who haven’t been to school for 15 months and the impacts of that is severe. We start to see a huge increase in violence to those children, child protection issues are huge,” said Court.
Accessing vaccine is the biggest challenge now. Most of Africa has signed up to Covax, the vaccine sharing scheme, but deliveries have been hampered by India restricting its exports so it can protect its population.
World Vision’s Joseph Kamara says wealthy nations that have surplus jabs must release them for Africa.
“Now if health workers are dying because they lack PPE and they lack vaccine, so who is going to take care of the people who are sick?”