Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in eSwatini (Swaziland) to begin partial easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures May 8. Travel restrictions remain ongoing.

This alert affects Eswatini (Swaziland)

This alert began 08 May 2020 15:35 GMT and is scheduled to expire 22 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): eSwatini (Swaziland) (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Business and travel disruptions

Authorities in eSwatini (Swaziland) will begin a phased lifting of restrictive measures, imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), beginning May 8. Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini stated May 6 that the country would allow limited economic activity to resume in certain sectors, under specific conditions and subject to stringent health and safety measures; however, restrictions on travel and economic activities remain in place.

Under nationwide restrictions from May 8:

  • Businesses in the manufacturing and production sectors to resume operations under specific conditions.
  • Nonessential business operations, such as retail clothing stores, will operate three days a week.
  • Public transportation services are permitted to only transport 70 percent of their passenger capacity.

The lockdown, which was initially imposed March 27, includes the suspension of all public activities and closure of most nonessential businesses. Other provisions within the order include:

  • Limitations on nonessential travel; authorities have advised all residents to stay at home except to perform essential tasks, such as healthcare, food, and financial services.
  • All nonessential travel between towns, cities, and regions remains prohibited.
  • Entry and exit via the country's land borders have been limited to eSwatini citizens and residents since March 27; returning residents are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
  • Commercial passenger flights have also been suspended.
  • Cross-border freight transport will likely continue, albeit under heightened screening measures.
  • Prohibition of public gatherings, including conferences, convention centers, and cultural and social gatherings.
  • Educational institutions will remain closed.

Security forces have been deployed to ensure the abidance of restrictive measures. Additional measures could be introduced in the coming days, particularly if the number of in-country cases increases.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the eSwatini government correspond with similar actions taken by other nations in the region in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm business appointments, deliveries, and travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Ensure access to essential items at least through March 31, plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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