Partial lockdown to continue to contain the COVID-19 pandemic
First case: 16 March 2020
Total cases: 3,989 (as of 19 August 2020)
Total deaths: 79
Schools: Phased opening of schools since 6 July.
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.
As of 19 August, the number of people who contracted COVID-19 reached 3,989, according to WHO. With a faster increase in cases since mid-May, the Government extended on 20 June the State of Emergency. Since 12 June, most businesses were allowed to gradually resume activities, except for liquor outlets and those falling within COVID-19 hotspots. The Government announced that the reopening of schools would be postponed until at least 6 July. The first phase involved the opening of Form 5s (Grade 7s) and completing classes in tertiary institutions. The Government announced on 4 July new measures and interventions, including re-opening of more business from 13 July, and places of worship from 19 July. With an increase in the number of reported deaths due to pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes, cardiac disease and asthma, the public (especially males) has been urged to ensure they have medical check-ups regularly. There are reports of violent interactions with the police as the country continues to enforce COVID-19 measures. At least 67 people, were arrested on 12 August in the capital Manzini, as the Manzini Disaster Management Task Team cracked down on traders who were not complying with COVID-19 guidelines.
Since 27 March, only cargo, returning citizens and legal residents have been allowed to enter the country. To prevent the spread of the virus, the country is continuously assessing the point of entries for importers and exporters of goods. 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 IMF approved US$110.4 million in emergency financial assistance under the Rapid Financing Instrument to support the authorities’ efforts in addressing the severe economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.