Eswatini reinstates lockdown rules as infections rise

The number of positive cases in Eswatini jumped from 16 to 31 in the week since regulations were relaxed.
The number of positive cases in Eswatini jumped from 16 to 31 in the week since regulations were relaxed.
Image: REUTERS/Maggie Andresen

The kingdom of Eswatini on Wednesday reversed a decision to relax coronavirus restrictions after infections almost doubled to 31 in one week.

Authorities in Africa's last absolute monarchy last week eased some of the restrictions imposed on March 27.

Public buses were allowed to resume circulating, and some companies could reopen.

But Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini, complaining that "complacency among the populace is creeping in", said the rules would go back into force on Friday.

"An increasing number of people around the country are now casual and lack vigilance in preventing the transmission of the virus," Dlamini said in a statement.

"The level of compliance to the measures which are aimed at curtailing the rapid spread of Covid-19 has dramatically dropped," the premier said.

The number of positive cases in the country previously known as Swaziland jumped from 16 to 31 in the week since regulations were relaxed.

One fatality has so been far recorded.

Non-essential movements will henceforth be suspended, while public gatherings of more than 20 are banned.

"Medical experts have given us a scenario that shows that we are on a precarious trajectory if we do not make the essential adjustments," Dlamini said.

"We are all learning on the go," he said.

Ghana became the first African country this week to lift coronavirus restrictions after a three-week lockdown of the capital Accra and second region Kumasi.

Eswatini's health system was already battling with poor supplies of medicine and equipment before the virus struck.

"Our health system cannot withstand an upsurge of infections in this kingdom and neither are our resources adequate to manage an uncontrollable transmission of the virus," Dlamini cautioned.


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