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16 Apr 2020 | 03:36 PM UTC

Eswatini: First COVID-19 fatality reported April 16 /update 3

Authorities confirm first coronavirus disease (COVID-19) death in the country on April 16; further spread of the virus expected in the near term

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Event

On Thursday, April 16, authorities in Eswatini confirmed the country's first coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-related death. The patient was a 59-year-old man who had underlying health issues.

Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini announced on Wednesday, April 15, that the partial lockdown currently in place in Eswatini would be extended for 21 days until Thursday, May 7, in efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. The decision was made in consultation with the Ministry of Health following the confirmation of new cases of COVID-19 in the country.

Under the measures, the country's borders will remain shut to all but goods, cargo, returning citizens, and legal residents. All returning residents will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine in designated locations, except those who are permitted to self-isolate. Furthermore, commercial flights out of the country remain suspended until further notice.

Restrictions on domestic travel will also be extended. As such, all nonessential travel between towns, cities, and regions of the country remains banned, and movement outside of homes is also restricted, except for essential services such as health care, food, and banking. No more than 20 people will be allowed in restaurants or banks at any given time, and gatherings of more than 20 people are prohibited. Public transportation will only operate for essential movement. Security forces have been deployed to enforce lockdown measures.

As of April 16, there are 17 confirmed COVID-19 cases and one related death nationwide. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.