A member of medical staff swabs the mouth of a resident as she is testing him for a virus, during a nationwide lockdown for 21 days to try to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Alexandra, South Africa, on March 31, 2020. (Photo: Agencies)
More than 8,000 health workers have been infected with the novel coronavirus in Africa, according to the World Health Organization's regional office for Africa.
"This is why infection prevention and control awareness is vital for all," the United Nations agency said on Facebook on Tuesday.
Africa had reported 644,205 infections with 14,044 deaths by Thursday, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
The WHO said together with partners it had trained over 50,000 health workers to protect themselves and patients, and aims to reach over 200,000 by the end of the year.
The growing number of infected health workers has raised concerns about whether they are equipped with adequate protective gear.
South Africa is the hardest-hit country in the continent in terms of the total infections and the number of infected health workers.
In his coronavirus impact address to parliament on July 8, Zweli Mkhize, the country's health minister, said 4,821 health workers in both the private and the public sector had contracted the virus as of June 30.
He said the Western Cape Province accounted for the majority of infected health workers with 3,285 infections.
Mkhize said several interventions have been put in place to address infections among health workers, and that guidelines to support health workers across the continuum of care had been developed.
Kenya has also recorded a rapid increase in the number of infections among health workers.
On July 8, Mutahi Kangwe, the cabinet secretary for health, said that 257 health workers had contracted the virus across the country.
Kangwe assured the workers who have been exposed to the virus that the government was committed to ensuring that all front-line staff are protected at all times, by making available the necessary personal protective equipment and other tools.
On July 10, the country lost its first doctor Doreen Lugaliki to the coronavirus. The 39-year-old was an obstetrician and gynecologist.
Pumwani Maternity Hospital, the largest and busiest maternity hospital in the country, has also been hit by the wave of infected health workers.
On July 13, 22 health workers in the hospital tested positive for the virus, even as the Kenya's Ministry of Health assured Kenyans that it was doing its best to keep the hospital staff, mothers and newborns safe. Some health workers are still waiting for their results, following a mass testing in the hospital, raising fears that the number of coronavirus infections could increase