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Lack of follow-up tests distort Covid statistics


Limpho Sello

COVID-19 infections and deaths may have decreased in the last month but the failure by some people to go for follow-up tests after testing positive for the virus is preventing the country from having accurate statistics on the pandemic.

This was said by National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) risk communications manager Baroane Phenethi in a weekend interview with the Sunday Express.

He said once someone had tested positive for Covid-19, it was imperative for follow-up tests to be conducted to ensure that they had indeed recovered from the virus. He said only then can the statistics be upgraded to reflect such recoveries.

However, many people never returned for further tests, he said.

He said even when NACOSEC officials made follow-up visits, they often found that the patient would have moved to other areas or even to South Africa.

Mr Phenethi said the practice was distorting NACOSEC’s reporting on Covid-19 recoveries.

According to the latest statistics, Lesotho has so far recorded 10 535 cases and 309 deaths. The cumulative number of tests stands at 63 951 but only 3922 recoveries have been recorded.

The statistics give an impression that over 7000 persons who have been infected by Covid-19 since the first case was recorded last May. But Mr Phenethi said the picture was distorted.

“The statistics are not giving a true picture as we have failed to track down some people who have tested positive in the past during our follow-ups,” Mr Phenethi said.

“While some migrate locally, some are moving to the neighbouring South Africa. This makes our work difficult. This is why our recovery numbers remain low on paper. It gives the impression that patients are not recovering.”

He however, said NACOSEC is taking comfort in the static death rate.

“We are taking comfort in the decline of the death rate as well as the positivity rate. This may also mean that there are no reinfections although the number of recoveries is low,” Mr Phenethi said.

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