COVID-19 which is caused by the Coronavirus was discovered in China in December 2019 and has rapidly spread across the World with confirmed cases in different continents including Africa, especially Southern Africa.

As announced by the Minister of Health last night, Eswatini has recorded the first confirmed case of COVID-19 affecting a 33 year old woman with a history of travel to the United States of America and Lesotho. This has heightened our level of risk as a country.

I take this opportunity to assure the nation that Government is taking all the necessary steps and interventions to monitor and assist the patient to fully recover while intensifying all preparedness and response measures to ensure Eswatini remains alert, safe and ready to tackle this global health threat.

We are working in collaboration with different stakeholders including United Nations Agencies and our international friends and partners to strengthen our capacity and response plans as we continue to confront this virus whose cure is still not available.

Government appreciates the organisations which have made the tough and costly decision to cancel events that draw large crowds. Our sincere gratitude goes to the MTN Bushfire, the Football Association of Eswatini and the University of Eswatini for taking the patriotic decision to cancel their planned events, in collaboration with Government, in the interest of the safety of the public. May I appeal to all other organisations planning events that have the potential to draw large crowds, thus increasing the risk of spreading the virus, to follow suit.

Government wishes to reiterate the position to restrict external travel unless it is of absolute necessity

  • We appeal to Emaswati to avoid travelling to the affected countries and to consult the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation if travel cannot be avoided.
  • EmaSwati who have travelled abroad are encouraged to seek medical advice upon their return and to self isolate until they have been cleared.

May I also remind all of us to follow all medical advice and precautions as outlined by the World Health Organisation to avoid spreading the virus. These include;

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or running water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
  • Maintain at least 1 metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth since hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Make sure you, and the people around you follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  • Avoid large crowds.
  • If you experience flu-like symptoms (fever, difficult breathing or high temperature) visit your nearest health care facility or call the Emergency Medical Services Toll free line 977.
  • If you’re 60 and above take extra care, visit a doctor or clinic.

We need to remain vigilant and on high alert as a nation, but we advice against panic which more often leads to the spread of false information thus putting everyone at unnecessary risk. While there is still no cure for Coronavirus, it is important to highlight that a large majority of infected people are able to fully recover from the virus.

Let us all keep safe. We will keep the nation informed on further developments.

 Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini                    


14 March 2020

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