King Mswati III Says Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen sent antiviral drugs he did not name to help him recover.
The king of eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, said he was recovering from COVID-19 and thanked Taiwan’s president for sending him antiviral drugs to help him.
The small South African country, an absolute monarchy, is Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally on the continent, and Taipei has provided vast amounts of economic and other aid.
In a speech on Friday, King Mswati III said while the country waited for vaccines to arrive, there was an antiviral drug he did not name that could be used to treat the disease.
He said he tested positive “for a few days” in the first week of January but is now negative.
“I am grateful to the President of the Republic of China in Taiwan for sending me this drug for treatment,” he said, using the island’s official name in the speech posted on the eSwatini government’s official Twitter account.
The 52-year-old king had not yet reported his coronavirus infection. He said the drug, administered through a drop, allowed him to recover before he even had time to announce his hospital stay.
Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said that when Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen heard the king was infected, he arranged for medical assistance.
“The State Department is delighted with the eSwatini King’s successful recovery under the joint supervision of Taiwanese and eSwatini medical staff,” she said.
The King could have been referring to Gilead Sciences, Inc.’s antiviral drug Remdesivir, which was approved in Europe in July for the treatment of COVID-19 in adults and adolescents with pneumonia that requires oxygen assistance under certain conditions.
Taiwan also tentatively approved its use last year.
Under the motto “Taiwan can help”, the government endeavored to show its aid to other countries during the pandemic and to donate face masks and other relief supplies.
The kingdom of eSwatini has recorded nearly 17,000 coronavirus infections and 644 deaths.
Its Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini died in neighboring South Africa in December after four weeks of treatment for COVID-19.
China claims Taiwan as its own territory with no right to state relations. Only 14 countries officially recognize the island government.
Burkina Faso was the last African country to move to China in May 2018, leaving eSwatini alone on the continent to establish diplomatic relations with Taipei.