Mbabane: While the wait for the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines continues in the country, government has extended lockdown measures by two more weeks effective midnight today.
The acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku made the announcement on Thursday evening that government has further extended lockdown by two weeks effective today midnight. Masuku made the announcement in a press briefing held at the cabinet offices. This means that Churches, schools, gatherings, entertainment as well as brewing, sale and distribution of alcohol remains banned.
The month marks exactly a year since the first positive COVID-19 case was discovered in the Kingdom, which was discovered on March13, 2020.
Almost a year later the country has COVID-19 infections in the region of over 17 000, and fatalities totaling 652 people as at March 4, 2020.
Explaining the reasons for the lockdown extension Masuku said“We cannot afford to be found wanting & neither can we afford to lose more lives.”
Amongst other reasons or the extension of the lockdown is that the country has not yet received its first batch of the Covid-19 vaccines which the acting prime minister said was sure to unforeseen circumstances.
“When we invoked the last extension, we had also hoped that we would have received the 1st batch of vaccines. This process has been delayed due to unforeseen circumstances but we have intensified our efforts to access the vaccines as soon as practically possible,” he said.
Masuku highlighted that the hard decisions taken today and every other day will positively impact our future and eventually bear fruit. “No situation is permanent and we continue to believe in our collective resolve as a Nation that together we will win this war”, he said.
The extension of the lockdown restrictions means that gatherings of all sizes remain banned, no sale of alcohol, curfew between 8pm and 4am remains in force, travelling is allowed only for medical, school, work and business reasons as well as an 80% carrying capacity for private and public transport.
Masuku also noted that the pandemic has caused a huge trail of economic destruction on jobs and livelihoods of the people, as many EmaSwati were rendered jobless and businesses closed down as well as children have also been out of school for just about a year now.
The acting prime minister said government is currently finalizing the necessary structures to withstand the expected severe effects of the projected third wave. “We have put in place the necessary interventions that will ensure EmaSwati are relatively safe from the virus”, he said.