All gatherings in Swaziland (eSwatini) have been banned as the government tries to get a grip on the coronavirus crisis as deaths continue to climb.
Only funerals, with restrictions on numbers of people attending, will be allowed to go ahead. Church and other religious gatherings are banned.
A new legal notice was issued on Thursday (7 January 2021). The regulations come into force on 9 January and will be reviewed after 14 days.
The Swazi Acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku announced there would also be a curfew on travelling between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. Public transport cannot operate after 7 p.m.
Public transport operators, drivers or conductors must ensure passengers are sanitized and correctly wear masks.
There will be stricter rules at retailers with social distancing and shorter opening hours. Alcohol can be sold for home consumption only.
There will be restrictions at the border. Swaziland is a landlocked kingdom with borders to South Africa and Mozambique. Only essential travel will be allowed for people seeking medical attention, schooling, work and business purposes. Special permits for cross-border travel will be needed.
Deaths from coronavirus (COVID-19) in Swaziland have risen sharply over the past month. The Ministry of Health announced on Thursday there had been a total of 268 deaths and 10,773 cases of people testing positive for the virus since the crisis began in March.
In a statement, Masuku said, ‘We have witnessed the devastating impact of the second wave of the novel coronavirus. Since the beginning of December 2020, the Kingdom of eSwatini has experienced a huge surge in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and related deaths. We have recorded 139 deaths over the period and 4120 new infections.’
He added, ‘As the second wave persists to its peak, more people are presenting with symptoms categorised by rapid deterioration in clinical condition. Evidently, we are at the belly of a beast and decisive action needs to be taken to save lives and to ease the pressure on our health system. We need to clearly understand that this pandemic is aggressively challenging our survivability as a nation.
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