Kinshasa, DR Congo: The United Nations’ health agency said on Thursday that it has discovered a spike in coronavirus cases in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, late last month.
“An exponential rise in the spread of SARS-Cov-2 virus has been recorded in Kinshasa,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a weekly report.
According to the report, the growth paralleled a “marked deterioration” in Kinshasa’s larger province.
“The third wave of Covid-19 is already there,” a DRC health ministry official stated, “it’s the Indian (Delta) and South African (Beta) varieties.”
“This wave could be deadlier than the previous ones,” the official said, blaming lax adherence to social distancing and face masks.
The WHO said that the country’s death rate remained steady at 2.5 percent, but expressed alarm over the prevalence of the Delta type in Kinshasa.
“We are in the third (wave) at the present,” Professor Jean-Marie Kayembe, a member of the DRC’s anti-coronavirus task group, told the UN’s Radio Okapi, citing increased numbers of cases and “saturation” of healthcare centers as reasons.
Kinshasa’s population is estimated to be over 15 million people, many of whom live in filthy, overcrowded circumstances.
In comparison to South Africa, the worst-affected country in Africa, and states on other continents, the city — and the DRC as a whole — has so far escaped the effects of coronavirus.
The daily national figures, on the other hand, have surged from a few dozen in recent weeks to 243 on Thursday.
The DRC had documented 32,176 confirmed cases of the disease as of Wednesday, with 789 deaths.
There were 22,348 cases in the capital, with many of them concentrated in the posh area of Gombe, which is home to wealthy Congolese and traveling ex-pats.
Among those killed include 32 parliamentarians and numerous advisers to President Felix Tshisekedi.