Zimbabwe’s entire tourist town of Victoria Falls will be vaccinated against Covid-19 as a way to reduce the spread of the virus in one of its most-visited areas.
The Zimbabwean government has released 70,000 Sinopharm doses to vaccinate the adult population in the tourist city between the ages of 18 and 65 years. Victoria Falls, with an estimated population of 33,000 people, has been hardest hit by the pandemic. Each person needs to be vaccinated twice.
Deputy minister of health and child care, Dr John Mangwiro, told TimesLIVE that Victoria Falls residents would get a jab so that when the tourism industry restarted everyone would be safe.
“As government, we want to make sure that our citizens and tourists are safe. That is why we took this bold move to vaccinate the entire tourist city. Victoria Falls is a city where tourism is the main business. Tourists and residents need to be protected from the virus.
“The vaccine rollout in the city started Sunday, and the response so far has been positive among those receiving the vaccine,” said Mangwiro.
The tourist destination has been hardest hit by economic effects of the pandemic, with an estimated 50% of jobs lost and tourism-generated revenue disappearing overnight.
Luke Brown, co-owner and CEO of Vayeni Safaris, described the vaccination drive in Victoria Falls as a welcome development for the tourism industry.
“We are upbeat about the government’s decision to allocate vaccines to the whole Victoria Falls adult population. This is a welcome development and one we believe will pay dividends towards the recovery of our battered tourism industry.
“Of course, there is trepidation from some in the town with regards to the efficacy and side effects of the vaccine, but we believe this challenge will be overcome as residents come to terms with the widespread benefits,” he said.