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‘PARTIAL LOCKDOWN PREVENTS 4 000 DEATHS’

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MBABANE – The Ministry of Health has stated that with the partial lockdown, Eswatini has potentially averted 4 000 deaths from COVID-19.


The figure was revealed by the Minister of Health, Lizzie Nkosi, in her responses to the House of Assembly, which were tabled on Wednesday.


Nkosi had been asked by Kukhanyeni MP Malavi Sihlongonyane on the status of the country after the partial lockdown and asked if the country was winning in any way.


The minister said modelling forecasts suggested that the country had averted between 70 000 to 550 000 cumulative infections.


Forecasting


“With the partial lockdown based on figures from modelling and forecasting we have potentially averted 4 000 deaths from COVID-19,” reads the minister’s response.
The minister further revealed that for now, the World Health Organisation (WHO) forecasts were to the effect that at the end of July, the country would have the most infections.


“We are hoping that it will taper off toward the end. How quickly it tapers off will depend on whether there is treatment and a vaccine and that there is nothing that exacerbates the situation,” said Nkosi.     
MP Sihlongonyane had further asked the minister what the country’s testing plan was as in some instances, the tests were a few and in some instances a lot.


Nkosi said all contacts of a confirmed case were tested for the virus, but due to global shortages of tests and collection materials for samples, they had a case definition that had to be met for them to conduct testing for COVID-19.


The minister said they would be bringing rapid tests to help them with the screening.
 “We had about 3 000 rapid tests that we used very quickly. The screening tests will help us identify who requires testing,” she said.


Nkosi said the rapid tests would be targeted at specific cohorts which included factory workers, healthcare workers and others, including congested areas where cases were being reported. When asked by Madlangempisi MP Sibusiso Nxumalo on the integrity of the results, the minister said they had two types of tests as they used rapid tests for screening, which showed them if people had been recently exposed to the virus, but not if one currently had the virus.
“We have 99.9 per cent confidence in the PCR results which are quality assured by a WHO reference laboratory in the region,” said Nkosi.


Extraction


Asked how many tests the biocentric platform conducted per day and why there had been delays, Nkosi said with manual extraction kits, the biocentric could run 126 tests per day while semi-automated extraction kits could run 288 tests per day.
“We have recently only had manual extraction kits in the country, which has resulted in the low number of tests performed per day,” she said.  


The minister said door-to-door testing would be conducted once they had the rapid tests in the country, but it would only be done in high density areas. 


The minister said transition from one phase to another would be decided by Cabinet based on evidence of the national response informed by data from the Public Health Emergency Committee. 

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