47 500 vaccines lost in recent SA unrest, says health department

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  • Around 47 500 Covid-19 vaccines have been lost in the recent unrest in SA.
  • More than 100 private pharmacies have been damaged, including 71 vaccination sites.
  • Many of those who have been arrested in connection with the unrest have tested positive for Covid-19.

Around 47 500 Covid-19 vaccines were lost during unrest that ripped through KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

In a digital briefing on Friday, Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said 120 private pharmacies were damaged in the violence.

Of those, around 71 were vaccination sites, Business for South Africa's Martin Kingston said in the same briefing.

READ | #UnrestSA: Gauteng vaccination sites reopen after low turnout during violence

And pharmacies weren't the only part of the health sector that suffered.

"The violent nature of protest unsettled the sector as a whole. At the height of the unrest, there were disruptions in all areas of the health delivery system," Kubayi added.

This caused a decrease in the number of vaccines administered in affected provinces due to the closure of vaccination sites.

Vaccination resumption

Most public vaccination sites in KwaZulu-Natal were not damaged during the unrest, Kubayi added. This allowed the health department to resume vaccinations in the province quickly.

She added that there had been a minimal interruptions to the vaccination programme in Gauteng, despite the unrest.

Kubayi added that while the country appeared to have passed the peak of its third wave of infections, the unrest could cause a surge.

"We are extremely worried that the many gatherings that we saw during the unrest in the two provinces, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, might lead to another surge in numbers. We are watching this situation very closely," she said.

Kubayi urged those who were part of protest gatherings to get tested for Covid-19.

She added that a number of people who had been arrested in connection with the unrest had presented positive test results and were being isolated by correctional services officials.

More than six million vaccines had been administered by Thursday, Kubayi added.

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