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South African authorities urge anti-vaxxers to stop as province becomes Covid epicentre

PTI | | Updated on: Dec 22, 2021

Vaccine will not make you a satanist, cannibal or lead to infertility, says minister

South African authorities in the coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal have appealed to anti-vaccination campaigners to stop as the province has now become the epicentre of the Covid-19 fourth wave.

Provincial health minister Nomagugu Simelane, confirming that Kwazulu-Natal has become a Covid-19 hotspot, slammed those who spread conspiracy theories about vaccination.

“The vaccine will not make you a Satanist, cannibal or lead to infertility,” Simelane told local media as he urged people not to listen to those spreading such stories.

Simelane also called on those who are hesitant to take the vaccine because of rumours that it causes further illness or even death not to believe this. Tens of thousands of visitors from other provinces have been descending on the coastal province since last week for their annual holiday break, especially at its many favoured bathing beaches, Simelane said.

‘Expected the rise’

Although the rising infections in the province are concerning, it was not surprising and was expected because of the vast number of people travelling into the province.

“We expected the infections to rise in the festive period,” he said.

Statistics released by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases on Tuesday evening showed that KwaZulu-Natal accounted for just over a quarter of the 15,424 new infections reported for the preceding 24 hours.

Also read: Will be under 14-day observation after home isolation restrictions lifted: Recovered Omicron patient

South Africa’s second most popular coastal province, the Western Cape had 21 per cent of the new cases, on par with the economic hub of Gauteng province despite the mass exodus from the latter as businesses and factories have shut down for the holidays until early January.

Until recently, Gauteng was accounting for up to 70 per cent of the daily cases, largely driven by the Omicron variant, first identified in the country.

‘Take advantage of free vaccines’

Simelane also expressed concern about the more than 20,000 health workers in the province who were not inoculated yet, many having cited some of the reasons he mentioned.

He also urged visitors to take advantage of the free vaccines on offer. But the domestic tourists remained sceptical, saying that the vaccine would only kick in once they returned home.

South Africa opted last week to remain on the lowest Level One of its five-level lockdown strategy, citing less serious illness in the fourth wave and the number of people vaccinated despite the hesitancy and anti-vax campaign.

Hospitals have also not been overwhelmed as they were during previous waves. Some analysts said this has unfortunately created the impression with many people that the fourth wave and the rapidly rising infections are not very serious.

Published on December 22, 2021
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