MANZINI, Eswatini

Two high court judges in the southern African nation of Eswatini, also known as Swaziland, have tested positive for COVID-19.

Hearings at the court in the capital Mbabane were abruptly halted around noon on Monday, with lawyers, court staff, and members of the public asked to clear out as the premises were closed for disinfection.

The Law Society of Swaziland (LSS) urged the government to “take extra care and minimize the number of suspects and correctional officers coming to court.”

“It is our view that the High Court suspends its activities until it is totally fumigated and staff subjected to testing, screening and all medical precautions are concluded,” LSS Secretary Thulani Maseko said in a statement.

“Individuals who came in contact with those suspected judges must immediately be given attention in accordance with the national health regulations and international standards,” Maseko added.

Sabelo Dlamini, a government spokesperson, refused to comment on the matter. “Issues around the health of individuals are private until they give you the permission to speak about them on their behalf,” he told reporters.

The judges’ diagnosis comes barely a week after Ndlaluhlaza Ndwandwe, the public works and transport minister, tested positive for COVID-19, forcing other Cabinet members to go into isolation.

Meanwhile, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers has filed a court appeal against the government’s plan to reopen schools.

The group said independent inspections at more than 22 schools had established that current conditions were not conducive for learning.

It said there was a high probability of children and teachers being infected if schools were reopened in the existing circumstances.

Eswatini’s overall case count reached 1,011 on Monday evening, with 23 new cases confirmed in the country of over 1.1 million.

Recoveries increased by 17 to reach 564, while the number of fatalities remains at 13, according to Health Minister Lizzie Nkosi.

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