WHO media briefing on COVID-19
GENEVA - South Africa's growing COVID-19 epidemic should be an alert to the rest of the continent to strengthen disease surveillance, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
South Africa reported a surge of 13,373 new cases on Saturday, the fourth largest globally.
Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe also reported significant increases in cases over the past week, WHO's top emergencies expert Mike Ryan told a news conference.
"Even though the numbers in those other countries are smaller, I think what we starting to see is a continued acceleration of transmission in a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa and I think that has to be taken very, very seriously," he said.
"South Africa may, unfortunately, be a precursor, it may be a warning for what will happen in the rest of Africa.
"So I think this isn't just a wake-up call for South Africa ... we need to take what is happening in Africa very very seriously."
Global infections stand at more than 14.5 million, according to a Reuters tally, with more than 600,000 deaths.
The WHO welcomed news that AstraZeneca's experimental vaccine was safe and produced an immune response in early-stage clinical trials in healthy volunteers.
"We congratulate our colleagues for the progress they have made," Ryan said. "This is a positive result, but there is a long way to go ... We now need to move to large-scale trials."
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