LESOTHO appears to be winning the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the latest statistics released by the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) over the weekend, Lesotho has a cumulative total of 10 731 infections and 316 deaths. These statistics show that the country has only registered just 486 cases in more than two months since 15 February when it breached the 10 000 mark for the first time.
On that day, Lesotho had recorded 10 245 cases and 243 deaths as the virus threatened to overwhelm the country in the wake of a disastrous 2020 festive season where tens of thousands of Basotho residing in neighbouring South Africa allegedly streamed into the country without being tested or presenting valid Covid-19 certificates.
South Africa leads in terms of infections in Africa and has the 20th highest cases in the world. As of yesterday, it had recorded a cumulative total of 1 582 842 infections and 54 406 deaths.
Thus, allowing people into the country from South Africa without being tested was only certain to lead to one outcome- an alarming spike in the infections and deaths in Lesotho after the December festive season.
But thanks to the lockdown which has been imposed this year by the government beginning in January, the high infections and deaths have now been contained.
An official from NACOSEC, who refused to be named because he has no authority to speak to the media, attributed to the decline in infections to the public’s general adherence to public health regulations which include social distancing and wearing masks at all times in public.
The official said the government should be credited with the lockdown which included a ban on international travel except for essential workers and people in need of medical and other urgent services.
“The spike in infections and deaths which occurred in the aftermath of the Christmas holidays alarmed many people and forced them to adhere to public health regulations,” the official said.
“The people also heeded the government’s call for less movement during last month’s Easter holidays. More importantly the lockdown which has been in force since January and the resultant ban on most social activities has helped bring down the rate of infections.
“However, the war is far from being won and any slip-ups and return to reckless behaviour now that most of the strict regulations have been eased could spell danger for the country,” the official said.
This was in reference to Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro’s Monday announcement that the government had relaxed the lockdown restrictions to allow a host of economic and social activities to resume.
International travel, entertainment and sporting activities are all set to resume under the relaxed regulations which came into effect on Wednesday. Lesotho is now in the “blue stage” of the Covid-19 guidelines. It was previously in the purple stage which barred political gatherings, international travel except for emergencies and essential workers as well as sporting events, among other things.
The relaxation of the regulations also opens the door for political rallies and gatherings to officially resume. The rallies and gatherings had been banned in March 2020 when the government first implemented a hard lockdown to fight the deadly pandemic.
Lesotho has also begun immunising eligible people against the disease.
So far, the country has received 36 000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine which has been used for the first phase of the vaccination programme which targeted essential workers such as medical practitioners and media practitioners. The first phase also targeted people with chronic illnesses or conditions like diabetes, tuberculosis and AIDS.
Health Minister Semano Sekatle has said the country will receive another 200 000 doses sometime this month. The doses will enable the government to vaccinate more people and limit the adverse effects of the virus on infected people.