NACOSEC to announce Covid-19 vaccine roll-out dates
THE National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) will on Thursday announce the roll-out plan for Covid-19 vaccination programme, NACOSEC risk communications manager Baroane Phenethi has said.
Mr Phenethi yesterday said they were in the process of drafting the roll-out plan before they start vaccinating the population with the first batch of 36 000 AstraZeneca vaccines which were delivered last week.
He also said while there was no definitive date for the arrival of the next batch of vaccines due to international demand, the government had already fulfilled all requirements and could take delivery “any time from now”.
“We are not sure yet when the vaccination programme will start because we are still drafting the roll-out plan. But we will announce on Thursday,” Mr Phenethi said yesterday.
Lesotho received its first batch of the AstraZeneca vaccines on Wednesday. Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro said the vaccines were part of the 430 000 vaccines the country would ultimately receive as part of the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s COVAX facility.
The COVAX facility, a fully subsidised initiative by the WHO to enable poor countries to get free vaccines, has committed to donating vaccines to cover only 20 percent of the populations of each of the 92 countries in the facility. These countries, including Lesotho, will therefore have to purchase extra vaccines to cover the remainder of their populations.
The elated premier said Lesotho could begin vaccinating its people now that it had received the first batch of the vaccines. He said more people would be vaccinated when the country receives its next batch of 132 000 vaccines next month.
Health Minister Semano Sekatle and health ministry medical experts also said the vaccination programme would begin sometime this week with the vaccination of health workers.
Meanwhile, Mr Phenethi said NACOSEC was also working on Easter plan to prevent a spike of Covid-19 infections similar to what the country experienced during the December festive season. Thousands of Basotho who live and work in South Africa returned home for the holidays and many of these had no Covid-19 certificates proving that they had been tested and declared free of the deadly virus.
Shortly after the holiday, the country recorded a sharp increase in Covid-19 infections from just over 2000 at the beginning of December to 3206 cases by 1 January 2021. By 1 February, the cases had shot up to 8900 and Lesotho breached the landmark 10 000 mark on 16 February 2021.
The infections curve has been reduced in the past few weeks thanks to the lockdown which was imposed by Dr Majoro on 14 January 2021.
By yesterday, the country had recorded a cumulative total of 10 523 infections and 307 deaths.
Mr Phenethi said it was pleasing that Lesotho was now recording reduced rates of infections. He attributed this to the public’s increased adherence to Covid-19 regulations. He said it was imperative to continue taking precautions as there was a high likelihood of a third wave of infections during the upcoming Easter holidays from 2 to 5 April 2021.
“We don’t know what the third wave will be like, so we must continue taking precautions. Our Easter plan will be hinged on the vaccine roll-out programme particularly dispelling misconceptions about the vaccines.
“We are also working with community leaders like chiefs so that they can alert the authorities whenever they have visitors during Easter. “We encourage Basotho to only travel when it is really necessary and we also encourage them to use designated entry points.
“People must limit unnecessary travel. Those who report to the official borders will be tested and if they are found to be positive, they will be quarantined,” Mr Phenethi said.