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Zimbabweans Desperate to Get Jabs, Amid Shortage

HARARE (AP) - Zimbabweans in Harare were queuing for kilometres outside one of the capital's main hospitals in the hope of being vaccinated against COVID-19, but many complained there are no jabs to be had.

Andrew Ngwenya and his family travelled about 11 kilometres (7 miles) from their home to Parirenyatwa, a major referral hospital where doses were sometimes available.

He said he arrived at the hospital one day at 8am and by noon, less than 30 people had been jabbed.

Later in the day, nurses told people to return home and try another day.

"The queue is like 5 kilometres (about 3 miles) long," he said.

"Even if you are interested in a jab you can't stand that," he added.

A part-time pastor with a Pentecostal church, Ngwenya and members of his flock are now praying for divine intervention, even though they would rather have vaccines.

Clayton Guta, another Harare resident, said the situation was dire.

"This is frustrating, imagine this big hospital has no vaccines, it's shocking, people are desperate."

Mike Muromba said he arrived at the hospital at 3am and was fifth in the queue but by 8am had been told there wasn't any vaccine.

They are telling us that the vaccine hasn't arrived, but in the news (local newspapers) we were told there are plenty of vaccines which have arrived in the country and it's being distributed all over the country across all provinces" he said.

Zimbabwe is one of more than 14 African countries where the delta variant is quickly spreading. Earlier this month the country returned to strict lockdown measures to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 amid vaccine shortages.

Infections dramatically increased in June despite a night curfew, reduced business hours, localised lockdowns in hotspot areas, and a ban on inter-city travel.

The virus has spread to rural areas which have sparse health facilities.

To date, 9% of Zimbabwe's 15 million people have received at least one vaccine dose and 3.7% have received two doses.

Across Africa, less than 2% of the continent's 1.3 billion people have received at least one vaccine jab, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.