Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo say 32 members of parliament have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. The disease has claimed the lives of some prominent MPs and officials from the president’s office.

The Vice-President of the DRC’s lower house of parliament announced the news. The deaths were recorded from the start of the pandemic in March last year.

DRC reports first COVID-19 case:

The latest victim was a prominent MP, Thomas Lokondo. Health officials say he contracted COVID-19 and died on the 10th of March this year at a South African hospital.

All MPs are required to wear masks in parliament. But some lawmakers go without them. The DRC has 608 MPs.

According to the DRC Health Ministry, the country has recorded more than 31 000 COVID-19 cases and 782 deaths since March 2020. The country’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign was temporarily suspended last month over fears of side-effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Authorities had to redistribute 1.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other African countries before they expired.

The country rolled out its vaccination campaign on April the 19th. But many Congolese are reluctant to have the COVID-19 vaccine due to fears of side-effects. Health officials have so far vaccinated 23 000 people out of a population of more than 80 million. – Report by SABC News’  Correspondent from Kinshasa, Chris Ocamringa.