Swaziland: Army, Police Close Down Swaziland's Main Commercial City in Bid to Halt Coronavirus Spread

The army and police have closed down Manzini, the main commercial city in Swaziland (eSwatini), setting up road blocks, forcing people to be screened for coronavirus and arresting people on the streets for loitering.

The lockdown started on Monday (27 April 2020) and is expected to last at least two weeks. About 110,000 people live in the city and about 355,000 of the kingdom's 1.3 million population live in the Manzini region.

The clampdown was spearheaded by the Swazi National Commissioner of Police William Dlamini. He said he had the support of the army and the correctional services (prison guards).

The whole of Swaziland has been under partial lockdown since 27 March 2020 in a fight against coronavirus (COVID-19). So far only one death from the virus has been reported and 59 people have tested positive. Of that number, 38 are from the Manzini region.

Dlamini told a press briefing the security services would set up roadblocks. He said this meant movements of people within Manzini and those coming to Manzini would be restricted. 'If your reason of travelling is not valid, you will be requested to turn back,' he said.

He added the security services would be across the kingdom increasing visibility to ensure that the public complied. Dlamini said, 'We will warn and arrest on the spot everyone who does not adhere to the regulations.'

He said the three security services would visit business outlets to ensure that those prohibited from operating were closed and those allowed to open fully complied with guidelines set out by the Ministry of Health.

He added people found on the streets for no particular reason would be arrested for loitering.

The police are also to work with the Ministry of Health in screening people at roadblocks. If a person is found to have a high temperature they would be tested for COVID-19 and if positive put into isolation.

New regulations also began on Monday restricting travel across the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III as an absolute monarch. People need written permission to travel between towns and cities.

The King himself has not been seen in public since last month.

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