Dis-Chem vaccine insurance
(Photo by Gallo Images/Luba Lesolle)
  • South Africa’s biggest pharmaceutical chains, Dis-Chem and Clicks, will not be open for regular business or Covid-19 vaccines in KwaZulu-Natal on Monday.
  • This comes amid violent civil unrest in the province which has resulted in shops being looted and set ablaze.
  • And it’s not just the private sector shutting down; vaccination sites and community clinics operated by the eThekwini municipality will also remain closed.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

South Africa’s top pharmaceutical chains, Dis-Chem and Clicks, have closed their Covid-19 vaccination and testing sites in KwaZulu-Natal on Monday because of civil unrest in the province. The closures come after a weekend of looting and violent clashes with police in Pietermaritzburg and eThekwini.

The country’s vaccine rollout, which has been marred by supply constraints and regulatory setbacks, faces a fresh challenge in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. Protests following the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma have devolved into violent looting sprees across both provinces, with national highways and inner-city routes closed to traffic.

Incidents of looting have been especially prevalent in downtown Johannesburg, with the South African Police Service (SAPS) confirming that nearly 100 people had been arrested in Gauteng alone. More arrests have taken place in KwaZulu-Natal. Several people have died in the unrest and major shopping centre have been looted and set ablaze.

Dis-Chem, which has 20 stores throughout KwaZulu-Natal and has vaccinated more than 100,000 people since the rollout began in February, announced on Twitter that it would be closing all its pharmacies, vaccination sites and drive-through testing facilities on Monday. This includes the testing site at the Atrium Centre in downtown Durban, and vaccination services at the Galleria shopping centre and La Lucia Mall.

These closures come a week after Dis-Chem announced its plans to deploy more vaccination sites to process people aged 50 and above – whether insured or not – as walk-ins.

Clicks has also suspended all its operations in KwaZulu-Natal, closing at least 13 stores listed as active Covid-19 vaccine sites across four regions. This includes facilities in La Lucia, Chatsworth, Gateway, Pavilion, and the Bluff.

“Clicks is currently not trading in KwaZulu-Natal,” Sedick Arendse, Clicks chief store operations officer, told Business Insider South Africa.

“Multiple Clicks stores have been looted in KZN with protests spreading to other provinces. We are monitoring the situation.”

The private sector isn’t the only one halting operations in response to the unrest. The eThekwini municipality confirmed on Monday morning that it too had closed clinics and vaccination sites.

“The Municipality has closed its clinics due to threats that have been directed at health facilities in the City,” the municipality said in a statement.

“The ongoing civil unrest has also affected community vaccination sites which have been unable to operate today. The Municipality will reassess the situation during the day and advise the public accordingly.” 

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