Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

KZN suffers setbacks with Covid-19 testing and vaccinations

By Kelly Jane Turner Time of article published Jul 16, 2021

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Durban - KwaZulu-Natal’s Covid-19 vaccination rollout and testing has faced a setback after looting and rioting incidents occurred in the province this week.

While clean-up operations are under way in the provinces, the impact of the civil unrest will have an effect as the country battles Covid’s third wave.

KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane said primary vaccination sites, such as hospitals, and secondary sites, such as community halls, had been affected.

“The vaccination rollout has suffered over the past week. But the vaccinations in the hospitals are continuing. Of course, that depends on whether the health worker that is supposed to provide the vaccine has been able to come in,” she said.

Gauteng also witnessed violent looting this week. However, the province maintained momentum with its vaccination rollout. On Thursday, 44 679 people received their shots in the province.

Meanwhile in KwaZulu-Natal, only 4 979 vaccines were administered on the same day.

Senior researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Dr Ridhwaan Suliman said the impact of the riots and unrest had resulted in a decrease in recorded Covid-19 cases in the province.

“Understandably, and with many testing sites closed, testing for Covid-19 is much lower down the priority list for most people in KZN,” he said.

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), on Thursday, KwaZulu-Natal recorded 490 new Covid-19 cases which represents 3% of new cases in the country.

The same time last week, the province recorded close to 1 700 new cases, which represented around 17% of new cases in the country.

“Although the number of positive cases appears to be decreasing, testing is critical for understanding the spread of Covid-19 infection. It’s crucial to remember that the testing data is representative of those who came forward for testing, not necessarily a reflection of current community transmission in South Africa,” said the NICD.

Director for the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said they were concerned that the rioting may exacerbate the situation of an already severe third wave.

“We were starting to see a levelling of daily cases, but of course, these kinds of activities have meant that people are gathering in these places where these events are happening. There is interaction amongst people in crowds so there may be transmission,” she said.

At WHO Africa, she said they are aware of the current situation in KwaZulu-Natal where the number of people attending their vaccination appointments for the past few days had decreased.

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