As coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continued to rise in Swaziland (eSwatini) Director of Health Services Dr Vusi Magagula predicted there could be another 7,000 cases before the end of the month.
The eSwatini Observer reported on Sunday (10 January 2021) Magagula, who is at the Swazi Ministry of Health, said a lack of resources especially staffing would be a contributing factor on the death rate.
He warned people to take the virus seriously. He said, ‘The number of cases and mortality from the pandemic in the next three weeks depends on how fast we progress, which is determined by how communities follow the laid down prevention procedures. If more people follow the prevention measures the rate will be low but if they behave otherwise the cases will shoot up.’
New tougher lockdown restrictions were introduced on Saturday with nearly all gatherings, including religious services, banned. The Times of eSwatini reported on Monday that Swazi police closed at least six churches that had defied the new regulations. A spokesperson told the newspaper police would continue to arrest church members if they were found to have contravened the regulations.
Police continued to teargas and assault people found breaking regulations. In the latest incident the Swaziland News, an online newspaper, reported that on Saturday police officers used teargas to disperse a group that was drinking alcohol at kaQobonga. It reported an 80-year-old woman was left struggling to breathe all night after stray teargas choked her.
Official Ministry of Health statistics released on Sunday showed there had been a total of 11,435 people testing positive for the virus and 295 deaths since the crisis started.
On Friday the Swaziland Communist Party said there was serious under-reporting of infections and deaths in the kingdom. In a statement it said, ‘Funeral homes have already reported on the extreme shortage of coffins as well as the lack of space in their mortuaries due to the increased number of deaths, most of which are Covid related, prompting them to direct that funerals must be held on daily basis, no longer on a Thursday to Sunday basis. Clinics and hospitals are also unable to cope with the overwhelming number of patients.’
It added, ‘The facts also show that [King] Mswati helped spread the virus through his annual ritual, incwala, a super spreader which has already overseen the infection and death of many of those who attended the ritual.’
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