Stranded commuters wait at a bus terminal during a protest by taxi operators amid the coronavirus lockdown in Soweto, South Africa [File: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]

The World Health Organization (WHO) voiced alarm on Monday at the spread of COVID-19 in Africa, warning South Africa’s surging numbers could be a “precursor” for outbreaks across the continent.

“I am very concerned right now that we are beginning to see an acceleration of disease in Africa,” WHO’s emergencies chief Michael Ryan told a virtual news conference.

Until recently, Africa remained relatively unscathed by the pandemic compared with rising numbers in other parts of the world.

With more than 15,000 deaths and close to 725,000 cases, the continent remains the world’s second-least affected after Oceania. But the situation

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