As deaths from coronavirus continue to climb in Swaziland (eSwatini) Acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku hinted vaccines might not be available for up to three months.
He said the Swazi Government planned to vaccinate the whole population of about 1.1 million people. Swaziland is relying on outside help to get the vaccines.
In a media conference on Sunday (3 January 2021) he said Swaziland was relying on the the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment that was coordinating the availability of vaccines to low and middle income countries.
He said the government was preparing a kingdom-wide programme of vaccination. There was a budget of at least E200 million (US$14 million) towards securing coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines.
No timetable for the arrival of vaccines is in place. Masuku said, ‘The first batch of the COVID-19 vaccines is expected to be made available in the first quarter [of 2021].’
In December 2020, The People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of global and national organizations, forecast nine out of ten people in Swaziland would not be able to get a coronavirus vaccine in 2021. This was because the kingdom was poor and richer nations had made deals with manufacturers and will get vaccines ahead of others.
Deaths from coronavirus continue to rise in Swaziland. On Sunday the Ministry of Health reported a further four deaths, bringing the total to 231.
Separately, the Times of eSwatini reported Dups Funeral Home and Crematorium was at full capacity. It reported Chief Operations Officer Mzingaye Ndlovu, ‘said the funeral parlour’s storage capacity was slightly over 100 bodies; however, due to the increase in the number of people succumbing to COVID-19-related illnesses daily, they had stretched their resources and could no longer afford to meet the demand’.
Previously the Times reported Dr Simon Zwane, Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Health, said Swaziland was under strain for space for beds to accommodate severely critical patients. Zwane said currently there was no space at the Lubombo Referral Hospital and at the Luke Commission at Sidvokodvo.
In a statement Masuku said there was not enough oxygen available to treat patients but an effort had been made to double local production in December 2020. He said there were sufficient ventilators but these needed volumes of oxygen.
He said, Government intended to hire an additional 70 health workers. These would include people who had recently graduated from local health training institutions.
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