Eswatini’s prime minister dies with Covid-19 as virus surges in southern Africa

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Eswatini prime minister Ambrose Dlamini, who had tested positive for Covid-19, has died, the government has announced.

The 52-year-old, who had been prime minister since 2018, announced in November that he had tested positive for the virus and was being treated at a hospital in neighbouring South Africa.

The government of Eswatini announced Mr Dlamini’s death on Twitter.

Eswatini, a small mountain kingdom northeast of South Africa formerly known as Swaziland, has recorded almost 7,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 127 deaths.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa later announced the closure of many of the country’s beaches throughout the festive season to fight a resurgence of new infections.

All beaches will be closed from December 16 until January in the Eastern Cape province and the Garden Route tourist area in the Western Cape province.

In Kwazulu-Natal province, beaches will be closed on public holidays including Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Mr Ramaphosa said there are concerns that new infections in the country’s second wave are increasing rapidly and may overwhelm some hospitals.

“If we do not do things differently this festive season, we will greet the new year not with joy, but with sorrow,” said Mr Ramaphosa in a televised address to the nation on Monday night.

“Many of our friends, relatives, and co-workers will be infected, some of them will get severely ill and some, tragically, will die.”

New infections have been blamed on people’s failure to wear masks and practice social distancing, while large gatherings, especially parties, have been identified as super spreader events.

Mr Ramaphosa also announced an extended night-time curfew and increased restrictions on the sales of alcohol, which will now only be sold from Monday to Thursday between 10am and 6pm.

He extended a night-time curfew from 11pm until 4am and restaurants and bars must close at 10pm.

South Africa has recorded 7,999 new infections and 170 deaths in the last 24-hour period, taking the cumulative number of confirmed cases since the virus outbreak to 860,964.

The country expects to receive its first delivery of a vaccine that should cover 10% of the country’s 60 million population in the early part of 2021.

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