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Fear grips Lesotho as relentless Covid-19 spreads

  • as frontline health workers at Tšepong and Seboche hospitals test positive
  • police and other key institutions not spared

Limpho Sello

LESOTHO’S Coronavirus (Covid-19) infections have dramatically risen from 35 to 73 in just two days. Just over a week ago, Lesotho had only four cases since the first case was confirmed on 13 May 2020.

But it appears the virus has well and truly landed as the cases jumped to 35 on Wednesday before increasing again to 79 by yesterday. It has not spread frontline health workers amid revelations that two staffers at Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital in Maseru and one at Seboche Mission Hospital in Butha-Buthe have tested positive.

Queen ‘Mamohato’s spokesperson Mothepane Thahane yesterday confirmed the development, saying, “It is with great sadness that we inform you that two members of our team have tested positive for Covid-19.”

“The two members are from the pediatrics and surgical departments. Both departments will stop admitting new patients while tracking and tracing and all other required processes continue,” said Ms Thahane.

Seboche Hospital on Thursday also issued a statement saying, “we regret to inform you that yesterday on Wednesday 1 July 2020, we registered three Covid-19 cases of which one is an employee of the hospital”.

“Therefore, for the purposes of contact tracing and screening, the management has effected the temporary suspension of services to ensure the safety of the employees and general public until further notice,” the hospital further states.

The virus has also not spread Thetsane Police Station in Maseru.

Police Spokesperson Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli yesterday issued a statement informing the public that one of its officers had tested positive and the station would be closed until further notice.

“The police service informs the public about the closure of Thetsane Police Post from today 4 July (yesterday) and no services will be offered.

“This is due to one of our employees at the station who tested positive with Covid-19. All the services will now be available at the Maseru Central Charge Office.

“All employees stationed at the (Thetsane) post will be quarantined and tested for Covid-19 along with their contacts,” Supt Mopeli said.

There have also been reports of infections at other leading institutions like the Water and Sewage Company (WASCO) which announced its first case on Wednesday.

The rise in the Covid-19infections come at a time when the country has stepped up its fight against the virus by increasing testing and quarantining suspects. The testing is still not adequate as only 4331 people have been tested to date according to the Health ministry. Lesotho has 2, 1 million people.

Health Minister Motlatsi Maqelepo this week said that the fact that nine out of 10 districts had recorded infections was a clear sign that “all of us in danger of suffering deeply from this killer virus.” Only Thaba-Tseka district is yet to record any infections.

AT least 500 locals have been quarantined at different facilities across the country over suspicions they have contracted the deadly Coronavirus (Covid-19), the Health ministry’s Dr ‘Makhoase Ranyali Otubanjo, said this week.

The exponential rise in infections comes barely a month after the Lesotho Nursing Association warned of impending catastrophe due to due to lack of preparedness on the part of government.

The association complained of lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health professionals across the country.

Nurses and other health professionals even went on a go-slow strike at the beginning of April to protest the government’s failure to pay them risk allowances and provide PPEs.

They abandoned the job action less than a week later after then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s regime agreed to their demands.

But two months later, the government, now led by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro is yet to pay the risk allowances and provide enough PPEs. The health professionals have threatened to go on strike next week if their demands are not met. (See story below).

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