AT least 155 people died of pneumonia and other respiratory diseases in just one week from 11 to 18 January 2021, Home Affairs Minister Motlalentoa Letsosa has said.
Mr Letsosa said the figures reflected a sharp increase from just 11 deaths from pneumonia and other respiratory diseases in January 2020.
He said the figures were compiled from records of deaths reported to his ministry which issued death certificates whenever Lesotho nationals died.
He said they had analysed the death patterns and causes to ascertain if any of them were linked to the Covid-19 pandemic which first broke out in some countries January last year. Lesotho recorded its first Covid-19 case on 13 May 2020.
Mr Letsosa said the figures and further information had to be presented to the Ministry of Health for expert analysis to determine if at all there was any correlation between the Covid-19 pandemic and the deaths.
He however, said it was clear that “something is happening because there is a huge change from the number of deaths recorded during the same period last year”.
“The Ministry decided to conduct a study on the deaths reported between 11 and 18 January this year and compare them with statistics from the same period last year.
“People were complaining that there has been an increase in the number of deaths and wanted to understand if there was any link with Covid-19.”
Mr Letsosa said they found that whereas there had only been eight pneumonia related deaths in 2020, the figure had risen sharply to 97 deaths in just one week from 11 to 18 January 2021.
He said deaths whereas there were only three deaths from other respiratory illnesses in January 2020, the figure stood at 58 from 11 to 18 January 2021.
“My ministry was not in a position to issue an analysis on the increase in the deaths recorded this year. The figures and other information will be presented to the Ministry of Health for expert analysis.
“However, it is a clear that something is happening because there is a huge change from the number of deaths recorded during the same period last year,” Mr Letsosa said.
He said the number of deaths could be much higher as some people did not report deaths in their families.
Many people believe the spike in respiratory and pneumonia related deaths could be in fact be Covid-19 deaths which have not been reported as such as the deceased would not have been tested for the virus.