The violent protests and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng has led to setbacks for the Covid-19 vaccination rollout and testing after several sites were temporarily closed.
While clean-up operations are under way in the affected provinces, the impact of the civil unrest will have an effect on the country’s third wave.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his address to the nation on Friday that the widespread looting this past week is likely to fuel a further increase of Covid-19 infections.
The violence comes at a time when the country is faced with the third wave of the pandemic, which is said to be more severe than the first and second waves, with the more-transmissible Delta variant .
The impact of the riots and unrest has resulted in a decrease in recorded Covid-19 cases in the province, not due to the low transmission rates but due to the fact that many testing sites were forced to temporarily close.
A number of health regulatory bodies, together with the Department of Health, have condemned the ongoing looting and violence especially towards healthcare facilities.
The health bodies said the impact of the destruction to pharmacies, clinics and other healthcare institutions is already being felt in some communities.
Covid-19 vaccine registrations opened for the age group of 35-49 last week Thursday and within 24 hours, a record breaking 1 million people registered on the government's Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS).
Acting Minister of Health Mmamoloko Kubayi confirmed this and said those who have registered will be able to receive their shots from August 1.
The national vaccination programme has continued across the country despite violent protests which resulted in the temporary closure of some sites in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
The Department of Health said the vaccination programme is expected to gain further momentum with the rollout being expanded to the 35-49 age cohort.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said on Sunday that those over 35 can do walk-ins for the Covid-19 vaccine, but they might not always be successful.
While the Premier said he was excited to see so many residents registering for their jab, with nearly 300 000 registrations in just four days, the province is managing the rollout to prioritise the older cohorts to get their shots.
More than 5 million South Africans have received at least one shot of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Gauteng leads the rollout with over 1.2 million people vaccinated, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 980 000, and the Western Cape with 785 000.
The majority of South Africans have received the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, with 4.1 million and those who have received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine amount to 970 000.
The vaccine rollout first kicked off in February with the nation’s healthcare workers, then in May it expanded to the over 60s cohort, the education sector workers in June, the over 50s category and Police in July, and from August, those over the age of 35 will be able to receive their shots.
* Keep an eye out next week for another round-up of the top Covid-19 stories.