More than 50 pupils at an industrial school in Swaziland (eSwatini) have tested positive for coronavirus in what might be the largest single outbreak in the kingdom.
The exact number of cases at the Vulamasango High School, Malkerns, a juvenile detention facility, was unclear because not all test results were reported on the same day. Pupils at the correctional facility were tested after an officer tested positive on 24 November 2020.
The eSwatini Observer reported that as of 3 December 53 pupils who lived at Mawelawela Correctional Facility tested positive. It reported the figure was only for female pupils and the number of males who tested positive was unknown.
The Ministry of Health and the Correctional Services declined to comment on the outbreak.
The number of positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) reported each day by the Swazi Ministry of Health is relatively low. There were 28 positive cases reported on 7 December and six on 6 December. In total there have been 6,529 positive cases and 123 deaths reported by the Ministry since the crisis began.
Minister of Health Lizzie Nkosi confirmed there had been a spike in cases in late November at the time of the school’s outbreak but gave no further details.
Vulamasango was until August 2015 known as Malkerns Industrial School. It was the subject of a damning report in March 2014 called Malkerns Industrial School Students Violence Probe.
The report said warders at the juvenile jail stripped naked, handcuffed and beat children in their care. They inserted fingers into girls’ private parts and forced one boy to drink his own urine. The revelations followed reports in 2013 that warders at the same juvenile jail assaulted children systematically for more than five hours.
Swazi News newspaper reported at the time that 15 officers were
involved and more than two thirds of the 430 pupils at the school were
assaulted from 8.30 am until after 2.00 pm, during one day.
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