It’s been 10 days since the first reports that King Mswati III of Eswatini, right, had tested positive for COVID-19, and now southern African media outlets appear to be confirming the case.
But the government insists the reports are rumors and condemned them in a statement Monday.
“This is purely fake news,” said Sabelo Dlamini, the acting government spokesman. “Such fabrication perpetuated by elements intent on sowing confusion and panic is unacceptable and appalling.”
The government further warned that anyone spreading unconfirmed stories about the king’s health is in violation of the country’s COVID regulations and risks prosecution.
South Africa’s IOL, following Swaziland News reports, cited highly placed sources that said the king was admitted to Manzana Royal Hospital in critical condition. He was struggling to breathe, the disputed account said.
The opposition Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) first reported that King Mswati III was ill in an April 3 statement, which said he was at Manzana in the care of Cuban doctors assisting Eswatini with the response. The SSN accused the government of “withholding information on the true state of the pandemic in the county.”
A dashboard maintained by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, updated through Sunday night, said Eswatini had 14 cases and no fatalities from the coronavirus pandemic, while the health ministry confirmed another case on Monday.
The king, shown here in a 2019 photo with President Cyril Ramaphosa, maintains close ties with neighboring South Africa, which now has 2,173 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 25 fatalities.
Image: South African presidency file