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NACOSEC increases presence, testing at ports of entry

Limpho Sello

THE National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) will this week deploy more personnel at the country’s ports of entry and increase its testing capacity for Covid-19 as part of efforts to ensure to prevent a spike of infections during the Easter Holidays.

During the last holidays in December, NACOSEC officials were caught napping as thousands of Basotho streamed back into the country from neighbouring South Africa with out being tested or presenting valid Covid-19 certificates.

This contributed to an exponential surge of Covid-19 infections and deaths which prompted the government to reimpose a hard lockdown from 14 January to 3 February 2021.

Although the country is not completely out of the woods, the infection rate has lowered to under 5 percent in the past month, allowing the government to relax most of the stringent restrictions and permit limited movement of people and the resumption of most social and economic activities.

Having learnt the lessons from the catastrophic preparations for the Christmas holidays, NACOSEC Risk Communications Manager Baroane Phenethi says this time they are wiser. He said they will be better prepared for the influx of Basotho returning to the country for the Easter holidays from 2 to 5 April 2021.

“The prime minister (Moeketsi Majoro) recently appealed to Basotho who live and work in South Africa not to come home for Easter but stay there to reduce the chances of bringing the disease and increasing infections in Lesotho,” Mr Phenethi said in a weekend interview with the Sunday Express.

“But many will still come and those who will come must make sure they come in legally through the legal ports of entry to avoid any criminal charges. We will be intensifying screening and rapid testing for Covid-19 at all legal ports of entry.

“We will deploy more personnel. There will be clinics at the ports of entry. Not only will these port clinics will be used for screening and testing, they will also be used for as waiting rooms ahead of referrals of people who would have tested positive for Covid-19.”

Mr Phenethi said they would also work closely with community leaders to ensure that all those who come in from South Africa are screened and tested on arrival to prevent the spread of the disease in the villages.

“We are working closely with community leaders. Among others, their job will be to establish quarantine facilities in their communities.  Those who would have tested positive in the villages or present symptoms of Covid-19 will be quarantined in quarantine facilities to be established in the villages. Their other task is to conduct community screening and contact tracing,” Mr Phenethi said.

According to https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/, Lesotho is 139th in the world for Covid-19 infections. To date, it has recorded 10 686 infections and 315 deaths.

Neighbouring South Africa (1 543 079 infections and 52 602 deaths) is the top-ranking country for Covid-19 infections in Africa and 17th in the world.

At 30 853 032 infections and 561 142 deaths, the United States of America is the top ranked country in the world for Covid-19 infections.

 

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