By Bongiwe Dlamini | 2020-05-11
A total of eight members of Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force are alleged to have tested positive for COVID-19.
These soldiers are said to have been based at Phocweni Army Barracks, and are reportedly currently admitted at the Phocweni UEDF Clinic. Sources close to the matter claimed that the results of the army members were known on Saturday.
According to reliable sources, the positive soldiers were tested after they showed signs of the coronavirus.
It is believed that the soldiers contracted the virus from one senior officer who had been admitted at the Lubombo Referral Hospital but unfortunately left on his own accord.
Sources claimed that the senior officer recently escaped from the hospital and returned to work, an act that is believed to have exposed the rest of his colleagues to the virus.
Well-placed sources alleged that the reason that caused the senior officer to escape from the hospital was that when the lockdown started, all members of the army were warned not to travel home or anywhere else but remain at the country’s army barracks until further notice.
This order, it is said, was meant to restrict the movement of soldiers so as to minimise the contraction of the virus.
However, the senior officer is said to have defied this order, only for him to test positive for COVID-19 thereafter. His unceremonious departure from the referral hospital where he had been departed is believed to have been due to that he feared being questioned and taken to task by authorities for defying the order not to travel.
The impeccable sources further stated that the number of members of the army who will test positive might increase.
When sought for comment on the matter, the UEDF Public Relations Officer Lieutenant Tengetile Khumalo said the COVID -19 pandemic is not just an organisational phenomenon, nor a national one but a global scourge.
Therefore, she said institutionalising and personalising the pandemic is not the right approach. Moreover, Khumalo said the testing of people is indiscriminate yet guided by the confidentiality clause which stipulates that no one should disclose the sickness of anyone.
By so doing, the army’s mouthpiece said it would be in breach of the doctor-patient confidentiality clause.
“The UEDF Military Health Services cannot under any circumstances divulge such information in the public discourse, in pursuant of all members of the Defence Force's right to privacy,’’ she said.
She further said this is also in respect of the COVID-19 Regulations in the non-disclosure of sensitive information of this particular nature.
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