According to Health Minister Jean-Jacques Mbungani, the Democratic Republic of Congo is dealing with a third wave of coronavirus infections, with the epicenter in Kinshasa, one of Africa’s most populous cities.
Congo, like many other African countries, has reported few cases and deaths, but health officials are concerned about a recent surge in infections, with 243 new cases reported on Wednesday, the highest daily total since March.
Mbungani informed reporters, “I formally proclaim the commencement of the third wave of the COVID-19 epidemic in our country, with Kinshasa as its epicenter.”
A low vaccination rate and haphazard observance of recommended hygiene practices were among the reasons for the rising infection rate, he said.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization said it was concerned about the spread in Kinshasa of the Delta variant first identified in India, which is thought to be more transmissible.
The week ended May 30 saw an exponential increase in the rate of infections in Kinshasa, the WHO said.
Congo’s vaccination campaign has stuttered after it delayed the rollout because of safety concerns about the AstraZeneca shot. As a result, about 75% of the 1.7 million doses it received in March were reallocated the following month to make sure they were used before they expired.
In total, Congo has reported over 31,900 infections and 786 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began.