Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Coronavirus cases in Swaziland continues to rise despite three-month partial lockdown

The total number of positive coronavirus cases officially reported in Swaziland (eSwatini) passed 800 on the 30 June 2020. So far there have been 11 reported deaths.

The number of cases rose from 690 to 812 in the final seven days of the month. There is little sign that coronavirus (COVID-19) is under control in the kingdom.

Of the 17 positive cases reported by the Swazi Ministry of Health on 30 June, two were aged nine or under and a further three were aged 10 to 19.

Of the 812 total cases 149 were aged 19 or under. Of the total cases 442 were from the Manzini region, which is also the area with the highest population in Swaziland. So far 408 of the confirmed cases have recovered and 376 are considered ‘active’, the Ministry of Health reported.

Swaziland has been in partial lockdown since 27 March in an attempt to control the spread of the virus. At one time all but essential businesses were closed but there has been some easing of this restriction. A ban on gatherings of 20 people or more is still in place and churches and places of worship are restricted. Schools have been closed since March but some are set to reopen on 6 July. The Swaziland National Association of Teachers has called on government to postpone reopening because it does not believe it is yet safe to do so.

See also 

Swaziland teachers say Govt. plan to reopen schools from coronavirus lockdown unsafe

Nearly 15,000 Swaziland workers face unpaid layoffs as alcohol banned in coronavirus lockdown

Corruption throws Swaziland coronavirus scheme to feed destitute into confusion

Swaziland policeman shoots boy, 15, playing football during coronavirus lockdown

Monday, June 29, 2020

Swaziland teachers say Govt. plan to reopen schools from coronavirus lockdown unsafe

Union leaders have urged the Swaziland (eSwatini) Government not to go ahead with plans to reopen schools next week from coronavirus lockdown because it is unsafe to do so.

The Swazi Ministry of Education and Training instructed high school teachers to return to work on Monday (29 June 2020) ahead of a partial reopening of schools starting 6 July.

The Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) reported it had visited 20 schools in rural areas across the kingdom and found none met the minimum safety requirement to reopen. It said government was not assisting these schools to put proper measures in place.

SNAT also reported it found 847 teachers said they had underlying health conditions and should shelter during the present coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

In a message to teachers SNAT urged them not to report for work until safety measures were in place.

The message said in part, ‘SNAT really wants schools to reopen for teaching and learning to continue. However, as a human rights organisation we cannot put ourselves in a position where we will find ourselves infecting one another with the virus. We cannot allow a situation where we will find ourselves even infecting the learners whom we want to impart knowledge to.’

SNAT had previously drawn up a list of issues it wanted addressed before schools could safely reopen. They included schools to be disinfected, all children tested for coronavirus, a nurse on site at every school and the transportation of learners to conform with social distance requirements. The marking of class work and sharing of books should be also be discontinued, SNAT said. 

Schools have been closed in Swaziland since 18 March.

Minister of Education and Training Lady Howard-Mabuza told the House of Assembly that E56 million (US$3.2 million) was needed to pay for the school reopening. That money has yet to be released by the government.

The number of deaths from coronavirus in Swaziland nearly doubled to 11 in the past week, according to official Ministry of Health figures. As of 28 June, 781 people had tested positive.

See also

Swaziland schools to reopen from coronavirus lockdown but Govt. admits infections and deaths surging

Delay in reopening Swaziland schools as coronavirus cases continue to rise

Work still to be done before Swaziland schools open after coronavirus lockdown

Sunday, June 28, 2020

New report of Swaziland hospital crisis as Govt fails to pay suppliers, patients left unfed

Patients at a major hospital in Swaziland (eSwatini) were left without food for at least a day because a catering company refused to deliver until the government met its unpaid bills.

It is one of a long list of cases in the kingdom where patients have been neglected over the past years because of the financial crisis.

The latest case was at Mbabane Government Hospital. Patients were left without food overnight and had to take medicines on an empty stomach. The company resumed supplies when part of its bill was paid.

The Swazi Observer reported patients went without food on 24 and 25 June 2020 until they were fed rice and soya mince.

It quoted a source saying, ‘Since April, the beginning of the government’s financial year, government had not been paying the service providers to such an extent that the catering company coffers couldn’t provide anymore from its depleted resources.’

Mbhuti Dlamini, Director of Operations of Capitol Caterers, the company concerned, told the Observer, ‘We had an issue with sources of payment to deliver, but that has since been resolved.’

The length of time the patients were without food is disputed, the Observer reported.

In July 2019 food collection points were set up across Mbabane to collect donations to feed patients at Mbabane Government Hospital when patients were left hungry after the government failed to pay food suppliers.

The Emergency Disaster Network collected bags of beans, rice, chicken portions and sugar. Cash donations were also collected.

The financial crisis in Swaziland has been growing in recent years. In July 2019 The Observer reported Minister of Health Minister, Lizzy Nkosi, ‘has explained that some of the shortages were as a result of suppliers cutting supply because of outstanding payments, which runs into millions of Emalangeni’.

It was reported in June 2019 that the food shortage had also hit two other public hospitals, Hlatikhulu Government Hospital and Nhlangano Health Centre, both in the Shiselweni Region.

The food problem is one of many facing the health service in Swaziland which is caused by the government’s inability to pay suppliers. The crisis was raging long before the present coronavirus crisis hit Swaziland.

Last week it was reported that hospitals and clinics were short of about 40 major medicines, including antibiotics and painkillers, to treat a variety of conditions including the flu, arthritis, fungus infection, nausea, vomiting and mental health issues.

The financial crisis in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III as an absolute monarch has been continuing for years. At least six children were reported to have died  from diarrhoea in August 2019. Drugs to treat them were unavailable.

In August 2019 the Ministry of Health confirmed in its first quarter performance report delivered to the Swazi parliament that drugs had run out and there were shortages of nurses, midwives and other health professionals. Fuel frequently ran out and ambulances and other vehicles had broken down.

Part of the report stated, ‘While most patients were negatively affected, highly impacted patients were those on psychiatric medication, which stocked out for longer periods and those taking anti-hypertensive treatment. The main cause for stock-outs is failure to pay suppliers on time due to the fiscal challenges facing the government.’

See also

Another hospital in Swaziland runs out of food for patients as Govt bills go unpaid

Swaziland nurses plan protest march over lack of coronavirus equipment

Swaziland health crisis getting worse as budgets cut. Rural areas most affected

More deaths in Swaziland as government fails to pay medicine suppliers