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MBABANE – Only a few hours after government announced the relaxed partial lockdown, Eswatini recorded its first death of a COVID-19 patient.
The deceased, who was patient number 15, a 59-year-old liSwati man, passed away at the Lubombo Referral Hospital, which is the country’s COVID-19 health facility.

The sad news was announced yesterday by the Minister of Health, Lizzie Nkosi, during a press conference held at the Cabinet Offices.
Ironically, patient 15 passed away just a few hours after the Prime Minister,  Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, had announced that the relaxed partial lockdown would last for 21 days, starting yesterday.

Further, the minister also announced a new positive case yesterday which brings the number of people who have tested positive in the country to 17.


According to the minister, the deceased had been admitted to the COVID-19 treatment facility on Easter Monday, which was April 13, 2020.
The deceased was from the Manzini Region and according to the ministry, had no history of travel and people he had been in contact with were still being investigated.

The deceased was reported to be employed in the forestry industry, but cannot be named for now.
The minister said he was admitted to the facility after having been unwell for about two weeks after being removed from another hospital in the country, where he had been admitted for other ailments.
Nkosi said when the deceased patient was admitted to at Lubombo Referral Hospital, he was found to have been suffering from pneumonia and other diseases which he was being treated for.

She said among these were diabetes mellitus. Nkosi stated that when he was admitted, patient number 15 was stable and not someone critical as he was able to talk and even walk without any assistance. “He was given oxygen therapy at the facility and treated with antibiotics and medication for diabetes mellitus,” she said. 

Nkosi said, however, the patient’s condition took a turn for the worst and suddenly deteriorated whereby he collapsed. She said he was resuscitated, but unfortunately he died on Wednesday, April 15, 2020.
Nkosi observed that COVID-19 had the effect of making the diseases which the deceased had worse.
She said of the previously mentioned cases which were then 16, the country now had its first death.

Meanwhile, Dr Velephi Okello stated that there were special guidelines to follow when burying a person who had died after testing positive for the coronavirus. She said there were regulations which had been forwarded by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Eswatini had also prepared its own guidelines (adaptation). She said they had handed over the instructions to the deceased’s family on how to bury their loved one.

She said relatives were allowed to bury COVID-19 victims either by cremation or in the grave.
“However, the handling of the corpse has its own regulations which have to be followed, for example they cannot wash the body as we normally do in Eswatini culture,” she said.


She said a post-mortem could, however, not be conducted because if this happened, the body would release the virus which was inside the chest of the deceased and was highly infectious.
Okello said the body could be placed in the mortuary, but only in a closed body bag.
She said relatives who wanted to view the body could but they could only see the person at the mortuary or a funeral parlour.
“Even then they can only view the person from a distance and those people are expected to wear masks, but only for a short while,” she said.
Dr Okello further stated that the fact that Eswatini was able to now test, it would speed up the process.

She said the patients who were already under care were constantly monitored and after every three days they would take their blood samples, which was a way of testing if they were responding to treatment.
She said this had previously not gone well because it would take time for the results to return as the tests were done in South Africa.
“Now that we have the capacity to do it on our own, this will speed up the process and positive cases can quickly be admitted before they are critically sick,” she said.

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