LESOTHO says there is no evidence to back up claims by the Zimbabwean government that four of its citizens who tested positive for Coronavirus (Covid-19) were returning nationals from Lesotho.
Last week the Zimbabwe’s Health ministry, announced that of its 62 new Covid-19 infections recorded on 18 June 2020, four were of its nationals who had returned to the country after a long stay in Lesotho.
The announcement sent shockwaves in Lesotho with many saying the announcement was proof that Lesotho was grossly understating its Covid-19 count. At the time Lesotho was only introducing mass testing and the Covid-19 cases were said to be only four. By yesterday, Lesotho’s Covid-19 cases had exponentially risen to 24.
Shortly after the Zimbabwean government’s announcement, Lesotho’s director general for health services, Dr Nyane Letsie said they were working with their Zimbabwean counterparts to establish the veracity of the claims of Covid-19 infections originating from Lesotho.
In an interview with the Sunday Express this week, Dr Letsie said preliminary investigations had not yielded any evidence that the four patients had ever been in Lesotho. She said they did not appear on the list of people who had been repatriated to Zimbabwe in line with an agreement between the two governments.
She said they instead discovered that the four actually stayed in South Africa for some time before returning to Zimbabwe. This suggests that they could have contracted Covid-19 in the neighbouring country. South Africa has the highest Covid-19 cases in Africa. By yesterday, it had recorded 124 590 deaths and 2340 deaths by yesterday.
Egypt, the country with the second highest number of cases in Africa, is way behind South Africa with 62 755 infections and 2620 deaths as of yesterday.
Commenting on the case of the four Zimbabwean nationals, Dr Letsie said, “although investigations are ongoing those people do not even appear on the list of those who have been repatriated from Lesotho”.
“We also have preliminary information that those people actually stayed in South Africa for some time before they left for Zimbabwe,” Dr Letsie said.
Lesotho’s International Health Regulations manager, Khotso Mahomo, concurred with Dr Letsie. He said although they got a report from Zimbabwean government saying the four had come from Lesotho, they do not appear on the official list of Zimbabwean nationals repatriated from Lesotho to their home country.
“I want to assure Basotho that those four people do not appear on the official list of Zimbabwean nationals repatriated from this country to Zimbabwe,” Mr Mahomo said.
He also said the upon arrival in Zimbabwe, the four failed to provide any information of people they had stayed with or come into contact with in Lesotho to enable the tracing of contacts who could have been exposed to Covid-19.