Unicef warns of children becoming ’faceless victims’ of Covid-19
Johannesburg – Unicef has called that children must not become the faceless victims of Covid-19 as the virus continues to ravage communities.
In a report released on Friday, marking World Children’s Day, Unicef said out of more than 757 000 cases of Covid-19 in South Africa, 58 000 were children. This constitutes 8% of the victims of the virus.
“The public health impact of the virus has been severe, with more than 757 000 reported infections and 20 500 Covid-19-related deaths recorded by 19 November 2020, with children making up 8% of Covid-19 confirmed cases,” read the Unicef report.
“Of this number, adolescents are affected at higher rates and available evidence indicates that adolescent girls are impacted worse than boys.
“While children can get sick and spread the disease, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The relaxing of lockdown restrictions from 1 June and gradual reopening of economic activity further revealed the pandemic’s broad-ranging impact on childhood and youth,” it said.
“Children’s safety, nutrition and health have been compromised, while their education has been disrupted. A reported 2.2 million jobs were lost between April and June in South Africa– lost livelihoods that have a direct impact on children,” stated the report.
It said while the country was battling other issues like gender-based violence, inequality and unemployment, the impact of the virus on children has been severe.
The report further said Covid-19 has had impact on the health and nutrition of children in South Africa.
The Unicef report said despite the pandemic continuing, the government had to make a plan to get children back at school.
This was a necessary measure to ensure a balance of containing the virus and sending the children to school on a gradual basis.
“For South Africa’s estimated 13 million schoolchildren, the pandemic resulted in the total closure of schools for a cumulative three-and-a-half months, with periods of gradual and staggered reopening,” stated the report.
“This not only disrupted learning but meant that 9.1 million children who received school meals suddenly missed out. Children also lost the safe and protective environment that schools provide and for some children getting back into class will be an ongoing challenge.
“Responding to the available evidence, the South African government has been recognised globally for leading a proactive response in getting children back to school safely,” said Unicef.