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SENATORS FEAR CORONAVIRUS SHUTDOWN

By ZWELETHU DLAMINI | 2020-03-13

THE Minister of Health Lizzie Nkosi has stated that ongoing analysis by the ministry is expected to determine whether the country will have a shutdown in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which has now been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“Each and every country has been mandated by WHO to conduct its risk assessment. As a country, we conduct a risk assessment both internally and externally. Now that this outbreak has been declared a pandemic, it means we are all at high risk.

The importance of the ongoing risks that we are conducting with neighbours are to decide what we are going to do with big events where a large number of people will be in contact. We also have to decide what we are going to do with schools, are we going to close them or not. We are still assessing that risk and once we are done, tonight (last night) we will deliberate on it with Cabinet, we will then announce our stance,” said the minister.

The minister was responding to a question by the senate portfolio committee yesterday, as senators wanted to know what other measures government will take and if the nation should expect a shutdown and schools to close, seeing as the cases in the neighbouring country are rapidly growing since the first case was reported last week.

The senators dedicated an hour and a half to the minister to give an overview and respond to the questions related to coronavirus.  The senators requested the minister to do so in Siswati for the benefit of those who may not comprehend English, given the seriousness of the pandemic.

Senator Chief Mvimbi Matse wanted to know what will happen to those who attended Easter Services outside the country and those who will be attending the national Easter Services at Somhlolo National Stadium.

The senator also requested that those who will attend those services be screened before entering the arena if the services will not be suspended.

 The minister assured the senators that as of yesterday, the country had no confirmed case of coronavirus, but was quick to state that it was not guaranteed as it could change at any time. She then revealed that the results of the two cases that her ministry was investigating were expected today.

The minister also discouraged shaking of hands, saying in the event people did they needed to wash their hands immediately with soap. She also discouraged people from attending large gatherings.

Minister calms fears as senators concerned about coronavirus

The Minister of Health Lizzie Nkosi calmed down fears of the fatalities of coronavirus, saying the fatality rate was between two and four per cent and  people aged 30 years and younger.

She added that elderly people and those with weak immune systems may need to be immunised for colds to reduce their risks of being infected. She emphasised on the preventive measures that had been shared by WHO since the outbreak of the pandemic, which include hygiene practices. 

The minister added that the country was ready to handle cases of coronavirus should cases be confirmed, stating that the  Lubombo Referral Hospital  had  the capacity to carry about 200 patients while Doctors without Borders ( MFS) had also pledge to support the ministry should a need arise.

Prince Hlangabeza calls for reviewed sitting arrangement in parliament

Prince Hlangabeza proposed for the review of the sitting arrangements in conferences and in parliament in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The senator wanted the minister of health to explain if the sitting arrangement will not contribute to the spread of the pandemic, and suggested that if it does people should sit at least at an arm’s length as opposed to the current sitting arrangement.  The senator stated that if it was true that droplets from coughing or sneezing, people could transmit the virus, then the minister should advise on the appropriate distance in sitting arrangements where people are gathered.

 Soon after that Senator Chief Mvimbi Matse, who was seated next to him skipped two chairs to sit at an arm’s length as a preventive measure, leaving the House laughter. Chief Ndzamenya, on the other hand called for other preventive measures and possible treatments other than the ones that had been stated, which include frequently washing hands with soap.

Chief  Mphatfwa expressed his concern over the supplementary budget allocated for the coronavirus as he said it was in adequate pointing out that the country had few ambulances yet each was expensive.

Senator Isaac Magagula, who is also the chair of the committee, called for cooperative partners to also assist the ministry in its endeavour, pointing out that the country had shown commitment by allocating  the E100 million to address the pandemic.

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