Partial lockdown to continue to contain the COVID-19 pandemic
First case: 16 March 2020
Total cases: 795 (as of 29 June 2020)
Total deaths: 11
Schools: Closed (nearly 378,000 learners affected).
Borders/Flights: Only cargo, returning citizens and legal residents allowed to enter the country since 27 March. Some land border posts closed, including Sicunisa, Gege, Lundzi, Sandlane, Bulembu and Nsalitje.
Containment measures: Domestic travel allowed only for seeking/providing essential services; 14-day self-quarantine required for those who had contact with symptomatic people.
In Eswatini, the number of people who contracted COVID-19 stands at 795 as of 29 June, according to the Ministry of Health. With a faster increase in cases in mid-May, the Government extended on 15 May the State of Emergency until at least 19 June. Since 15 June, most business were allowed to resume activities, following specific measures to prevent transmissions, including use of face masks in public spaces and social distancing guidelines. Previously, authorities had announced on 23 April new measures to reinforce the partial lockdown, with further restrictions and guideline for the essential services that are allowed to operate, including public transport. On his statement, the Prime Minister said "the country's health system cannot withstand an upsurge of infections and neither the available resources are adequate to manage an uncontrollable transmission of the virus". The Deputy Prime Minister had also acknowledged the shortage of personal protective equipment to effectively contain the COVID-19 and informed the Government was intensifying the efforts to procure this and other medical supplies.
The first gazette with the Eswatini COVID-19 Regulations already included restriction of movements, prohibition of gatherings, closure of schools, borders and non-essential services and regulations on isolation or mandatory quarantine, price control, among other measures. Since 27 March, only cargo, returning citizens and legal residents are allowed to enter the country. Patients who knowingly expose others to coronavirus may be arrested and prosecuted for attempted murder or murder. Refusal to quarantine, the spread of false information or failure in complying with COVID-19 Regulations will be punished by up to five years in prison or a fine not exceeding 25,000 Emalangeni (around US$1,300), depending on the offence.
The containment measures are reportedly exacerbating pre-existing humanitarian needs in Eswatini. There are reports of increasing hunger in some communities, including Kwaluseni Township, in the Manzini District, where most of the population reportedly lost their incomes with the closure of factories. Across the country, more than 11,000 vulnerable children have reportedly been left without their main nutritional daily meal, following the closure of all Government’s Neighbourhood Care Points, where they previously received two meals a day, according to media reports. The situation has compounded the closure of schools and the interruption of the school feeding scheme. The Ministry of Health encouraged farmers to embark on the production of maize, beans, vegetables and other food crops during the winter season.
The Government reports that additional health workers, including eight doctors, 145 nurses, environmental health specialists, and paramedics have been recruited and 1,007 nurses, 147 doctors and over 3,000 rural health motivators have been trained on COVID-19 case management.