Johannesburg – UNICEF has called on children not to become the faceless victims of Covid-19 as the virus continues to ravage communities.
In a report released Friday, marking World Children’s Day, Unicef said 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 impact of the virus on public health has been severe, with more than 757,000 infections reported and 20,500 deaths linked to Covid-19 recorded as of November 19, 2020, children representing 8% of confirmed cases of Covid-19”, indicates the Unicef Report.
“Of these, adolescents are affected at higher rates and the available evidence indicates that adolescent girls are affected more than boys.
“Although children can get sick and spread disease, this is only the tip of the iceberg. The easing of lockdown restrictions from June 1 and the gradual reopening of economic activity further revealed the wide impact of the pandemic on children and youth, ”he said.
“Children’s safety, nutrition and health have been compromised, while their education has been disrupted. According to the report, 2.2 million jobs were lost between April and June in South Africa – livelihoods that have a direct impact on children ”.
He said that as the country battles other issues such as gender-based violence, inequality and unemployment, the impact of the virus on children is severe.
The report further states that Covid-19 has had an impact on the health and nutrition of children in South Africa.
The Unicef report said despite the continuing pandemic, the government needs to develop a plan to get children back to school.
It was a necessary measure to ensure a balance between controlling the virus and gradually sending children to school.
“For the approximately 13 million school children in South Africa, the pandemic has resulted in the total closure of schools for a total of three and a half months, with periods of gradual and phased reopening,” the report said.
“It not only disrupted learning, but also caused 9.1 million children who were receiving school meals suddenly to miss out. Children have also lost the safe and protective environment that schools provide and for some children returning to class will be an ongoing challenge.
“In response to the available evidence, the South African government has been recognized around the world for leading a proactive response to get children back to school safely,” UNICEF said.