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Residents raise concerns over Covid-19 centre

Limpho Sello

MASERU East residents have bemoaned the government’s “reckless” decision to convert a guest house in the heart of the suburb into a quarantine facility for suspected Coronavirus (Covid-19) cases.

Scenery Guest House was converted into a quarantine centre in April 2020. It is one of nine such centres in Maseru. They are 34 quarantine centres countrywide.

But aggrieved residents say they were not consulted about the decision. Now they are living in fear of contracting the deadly virus because Covid-19 suspects are allegedly not under strict quarantine and are allowed to roam the suburb by the facility’s authorities.

In the latest such incident on Monday, residents said several Covid-19 suspects were let out to drink alcohol and play snooker games at the local shops.

The residents reported the matter to the area headman, Paulosi Mabathoana.

Mr Mabathoana told the Sunday Express that the Covid-19 suspects “were even accompanied by a security guard and they mingled with unsuspecting residents at the shops”.

However, the Ministry of Health has denied the allegations.

The ministry’s head of family health services, Makhoase Ranyali, this week told this publication that their investigations had not yielded anything to substantiate the residents’ claims.

“We heard about the allegations and we immediately went to investigate. We did not find anything like that (suspects going out into the neighbourhood) because there are nurses and police who are also stationed at the guesthouse. They informed us that nothing of that sort happened. I really don’t know why people have been spreading such rumours,” Dr Ranyali said.

But Mr Mabathoana and some of the residents who spoke to this publication insist that the Covid-19 suspects take advantage of the laxity in enforcing the quarantine restrictions to go out in search of entertainment in the suburb.

“What incensed me most is the fact that I was not informed about the facility in my capacity as the headman. I then decided to contact the Maseru District Administrator (DA) Mpane Nthunya and the managing director of Scenery Guest House, ‘Marethabile Sekhiba, after receiving more complaints from the residents,” Mr Mabathoana said.

On his part, Mr Nthunya said they had begun a campaign to sensitise headmen, chiefs and residents that some guest houses in their vicinities had been turned into quarantine facilities for returning residents awaiting test results for Covid-19.

He said all such facilities, including Scenery Guest House, had a police officer and two nurses tasked with ensuring suspects did not leave the facility until they were officially cleared to go home.

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