South Africa says vaccine rollout, essential healthcare disrupted by unrest

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A man receives the COVID-19 vaccine at Jabulani Mall Mobile Vaccination Site on July 06, 2021 in Soweto, South Africa. (Photo by Papi Morake/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

South Africa’s health department on Tuesday said that violent protests had disrupted the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and essential healthcare services, such as the collection of chronic medication by tuberculosis, HIV and diabetes patients.

South Africa is currently experiencing a third wave of COVID-19 that is more severe than the first and second with the highly infectious Delta variant first identified in India driving the wave.

FILE PHOTO: A man receives the COVID-19 vaccine at Jabulani Mall Mobile Vaccination Site in Soweto, South Africa. (Photo by Papi Morake/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

The department said in a statement that it was temporarily shutting down some vaccination sites, adding that anyone with a inoculation scheduled in an area affected by ongoing unrest was advised to defer their vaccination.

South Africa has been in turmoil since protests broke out in KwaZulu-Natal province after former South African president Jacob Zuma turned himself over to police early on Thursday to begin serving a 15-month prison term.

At least 45 people have been killed and hundreds of others have been arrested in the protests which have since spread to Gauteng province.

Major malls and shopping centers in the two densely populated provinces were ransacked. Brookside Mall in Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal was also set on fire.

Vehicles and trucks were also burnt by groups of protestors calling for the release of Zuma from prison.

President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed to restore calm and order and deployed troops to support the operations of the South African Police Service.

Ramaphosa said his government will take action to protect every person in the country against the threat of violence, intimidation, theft and looting.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)

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