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Govt lagging behind in Covid-19 response: minister

Limpho Sello

Deputy Minister of Health ‘Manthabiseng Phohleli has admitted that the government is lagging behind in its preparedness and response to the deadly Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Speaking during a recent China-Africa video teleconference on combating Covid-19 hosted by the Chinese embassy in Maseru, Ms Phohleli said Lesotho lacked sufficient medical equipment as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent the spread of the virus.

Thirteen African countries participated in the video conference and Lesotho was represented by Ms Phohleli, Director General for Health Services Dr Nyane Letsie, and the Incidence Manager for COVID-19, Dr Llang Maama.

Ms Phohleli said although the country had received some donations from Chinese businessman and philanthropist, Jack Ma, it still lacked equipment such as ventilators and PPEs. She said the government needed to do more to spread awareness on Covid-19.

“We appreciate that there is a consignment coming all the way from the Jack Ma Foundation in China but we still have inadequate medical equipment and PPEs,” Ms Phohleli said.

“I noted with great concern during the video conference when (Chinese) Professor Zunyou Wu stressed the importance of oxygen. Oxygen is critical for Covid-19 patients.

“We are working towards finalising the procurement of an oxygen unit and other medical equipment and supplies. We are also working on building awareness of the Covid-19 prevention which is still lacking.”

She said despite all the challenges Lesotho was blessed because it had not recorded any Covid-19 infections. After Comoros recorded its first case on Thursday, Lesotho is now officially the only African country without Covid-19 cases.

Ms Phohleli said although Lesotho had not recorded any Covid-19 cases, there were still concerns that Basotho who illegally crossed into the country from South Africa could spread infections.

“There has not been any recorded case of Covid-19 but there are concerns that illegal migrants who cross the border everyday pose a threat to the country.”

She said as a result the government was strengthening surveillance at the ports of entry and had also deployed doctors and nurses to health centres specifically to fight Covid-19.

“We have started training for health professionals around the country on Covid-19 surveillance, case management and infection prevention and control.

“We have also established quarantine centres,” said Ms Phohleli.

 

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