The Department of Health’s deputy director-general Dr Nicholas Crisp says about 25 000 vaccine doses have either been lost or destroyed as a result of the looting sprees.

Crisp and acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi appeared virtually before Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health on Wednesday evening, 21 July 2021.

“The estimated number of missed vaccination is around 250,000 based on the number of vaccinations that the provinces were doing before the disruptions. The actual loss of doses looks like around 25,000 but we are still getting information in terms of those lost or destroyed”

The Department of Health’s deputy director-general Dr Nicholas Crisp

KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng were rocked by a series of riots, during which shops, malls and other business establishments were affected.

The unrest started out as demonstrations demanding former president Jacob Zuma’s release from prison in KZN, but soon morphed into violent looting sprees that spread to parts of Gauteng. Chaotic scenes coming from both provinces showed thousands of citizens looting malls, shops and other establishments.

Pharmacies and other health facilities were also affected – evidently posing a setback to the vaccination programme.

“In terms of the infrastructure and the ability to deliver, there were large private pharmacies that were damaged. Not all were vaccination centres but it is still a concern because that is where many patients get their other medications,” Dr Crisp said.

Could the riots lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases?

Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi says they’re concerned about COVID-19 figures spiking up in KZN over the next two weeks due to the recent civil unrest.

Video clips and images of the chaos show the rioters wearing no masks – with little to no social distancing. The minister has told the committee they are particularly worried about KZN and has since urged the affected communities to be on the lookout for signs of the virus.

“We continue to be worried about the likelihood in the next seven to 14 days of seeing the numbers going up,” she said.

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Presh JM Reporter

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