Violence, Unrest In S. Africa Impacts Coronavirus Vaccination Campaign - UNICEF


Violence, Unrest in S. Africa Impacts Coronavirus Vaccination Campaign - UNICEF

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 15th July, 2021) The unrest and violence in South Africa prompted by the authorities jailing former President Jacob Zuma is challenging the coronavirus vaccination campaign in the country, UNICEF Chief of Communication and Partnerships in South Africa Toby Fricker told Sputnik.

"The violence and unrest is having an impact on the COVID-19 vaccination campaign and could further fuel the spread of the virus at a time when South Africa is battling its third wave," Fricker said. "Reports of vaccination sites being forced to close and health clinics being damaged are also particularly concerning, as the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out has been gathering pace and will now be slowed, putting more lives at risk."

Fricker said the difficulties health workers have in accessing medical facilities as well as large number of people now not taking part in the coronavirus prevention measures could further fuel the spread of the virus and impact the safe continuation of child health services.

"According to the Department of Health, some pharmacies and medical centers have been looted and the medical stock has been stolen," he said.

Fricker also said some UNICEF programs have been disrupted by the unrest and its partners' work on the ground has also been directly affected.

"Ongoing COVID-19 community-level prevention messaging, support to vaccine registration and other health services have been temporarily halted in some areas," he said. "Partners in Kwa-Zulu Natal have also reported having to scale down critical child protection social services to some of the most vulnerable children, while there are reports of some schools being damaged in the KwaZulu-Natal area."

On Friday, protests erupted following news that the authorities have jailed Zuma. The first waves of unrest began in KwaZulu-Natal and have since spilled over to South Africa's economic capital of Johannesburg in Gauteng. The protests turned into riots complete with looting and acts of vandalism. On Monday, the government dispatched troops to quell the unrest.

Zuma, 79, turned himself in on July 7 to begin serving a 15-month sentence he was handed for contempt of court after skipping a corruption trial.