Brace for 'very severe' Covid-19 wave after riots, warns WHO

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The aftermath of the looting after protests in three provinces.
The aftermath of the looting after protests in three provinces.
Marco Longari

South Africa should prepare itself for a surge in coronavirus cases after days of widespread rioting and looting in the two most populous provinces, the World Health Organization’s Africa director said.

The deadliest and most widespread unrest since the end of apartheid followed the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma on 7 July. The looting sprees have occurred amid the country’s third and most severe wave of Covid-19 infections.

"We are concerned about the last three or so days of rioting in some parts of South Africa, it may exacerbate the situation of a very severe wave," Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s Africa director, said on a conference call on Thursday.

"The government has to brace itself, and we in the WHO will be preparing, to see an increase in the cases again."

South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccination program has been disrupted by the unrest with the government halting inoculations in the southeastern province of KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng, the country’s commercial hub.

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