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IOM, NACOSEC in sensitisation drive ahead of Easter

Nthatuoa Koeshe

RURAL masses must protect themselves against the looming third wave of Covid-19 during the upcoming Easter holidays by reporting any signs and symptoms to the authorities.

This will help fight the killer disease which has so far infected 10 535 and killed 309 people according to the latest National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) statistics.

This was International Organisation of Migration (IOM) and NACOSEC’s message to over 1500 Qacha’s Nek villagers during a Covid-19 sensitisation campaign on Thursday.

The campaign was coordinated by Qacha’s Nek district administrator (DA), Mantsi T?eane and the Migrant Workers Association (MWA).

NACOSEC risk communication manager Baroane Phenethi, congratulated the Qacha’s Nek DA for leading one of the best coordinated districts in terms of the fight against Covid-19.

Given the abundant porous borders in the district, Mr Phenethi said it was imperative for the villagers to be vigilant during the upcoming Easter holidays next month to protect themselves against Covid-19.

He emphasised that villagers must always be provided with accurate information to ensure that they make informed decisions regarding Covid-19. With winter fast approaching, predictions are that it will come with a third wave of the pandemic which could be disastrous if many South Africa-based Basotho travel home for the Easter holidays.

“We are approaching Easter holidays and Qacha’s Nek is one of the districts with porous borders which are popular with some travellers and we must adhere to the Covid-19 regulations so that we stay protected,” Mr Phenethi said.

“We must also dismiss misinformation especially on social media. We must ensure that everyone accesses the correct information about Covid-19,” he said.

With winter and a third wave beckoning, the government has already encouraged Basotho based in South Africa not to travel home during the holidays to avoid a spike in infections. Early this month, Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro said people should only travel when it is absolutely necessary.

The message was informed by the spike in Covid-19 infections during the 2020 festive period where cases doubled and trebled within weeks.

For her part, IOM Lesotho representative ‘Mabaruti Motsamai told villagers during the campaign that the initiative was meant to empower them with vital information about Covid-19.

“We must ensure that our people are empowered to obtain more information, to report when they do not feel well and to feel free to test for Covid-19 without fear of stigma and discrimination,” Ms Motsamai said.

In light of the imminent third wave, Mr T?eane reiterated his commitment to strengthening prevention messaging through the District Covid-19 Secretariat (DISCOSEC).

Mr T?eane also thanked IOM for its support to the district in particular for training 60 vulnerable youths and returnee migrants in making sanitisers and cosmetics among others.

Qacha’s Nek district medical officer Balengesila Mwenyi Panzi said the Covid-19 situation in Lesotho was still “incredibly challenging” for both the public and the government.

Nevertheless, the district has recorded a decrease in the number of infections. He attributed this to strategies meant to minimise illness and deaths.

IOM has also been implementing a UK-Aid funded Covid-19 response regional project titled, Humanitarian response to vulnerable and stranded migrants in Southern Africa region. IOM Lesotho has been working closely with the Ministry of Social Development, DISCOSEC and the District Disaster Management Teams in Mohale’s Hoek, Quthing and Qacha’s Nek districts in identifying vulnerable returnees, their families and other extremely vulnerable youths providing skills training to restore their livelihoods.

 

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