All is not well in Covid-19 fight

All is not well in Covid-19 fight

Defence Minister Prince Maliehe this week told the media that the government plans to deploy soldiers and the police to help enforce Covid-19 regulations.
The decision to deploy soldiers and the police comes as the government of Lesotho is mulling imposing a new lockdown in an attempt to keep the lid on new infections.

The move to rope in the army and the police could be a tacit admission by the government that all is not well in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The decision to deploy the army comes after the National Covid-19 Secretariat chief executive officer, Thabo Khasipe, announced new figures of infections this week showing an alarming surge in infections.

Lesotho’s cumulative Covid-19 cases stood at 1 327 this week with 24 new cases being reported this week alone.
The numbers of those who have died now stands at 33, up from 31 the previous week.
We must admit though that while these figures are worrying, they are still far from the ghastly predictions we had been predicted in March when the country first went into its first total lockdown.

The downside to the low statistics of Covid-19 deaths has been that it has resulted in thousands of Basotho lowering their guard. Covid-19 no longer instils the ‘fear of God’ in their hearts.
There has generally been a sense of fatigue from the pandemic. The sad result is that the majority of our people are now openly defying the Covid-19 regulations.

They are now congregating in bars, without masks, and without practicing any social distancing protocols. They no longer sanitise or regularly wash their hands. In their thinking, the storm is over.
The sad result is that we are now seeing a surge in new infections.
Without necessarily instilling fear in our people, we need to see Nacosec step up its game by rolling out new campaigns to educate Basotho on the constant danger posed by Covid-19.

They must continue to hammer the message that the game is not over until the “fat lady” sings.
They must continue to warn Basotho of the impending danger of a second wave of infections, much deadlier than the first.
While the government is putting together the final touches to plans for an army and police deployment, we must always remember the great lessons we learnt from the first deployment in April.

Instead of being seen as a force for good, the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) was now seen as the enemy after it brutally enforced the lockdown in the villages. Its reputation was badly bruised after that operation.
The result was an outcry from Basotho. They alleged that the soldiers, who were not trained to interface with the public, were violating their rights.
The government was eventually forced to withdraw the soldiers from the villages.

Without the soldiers and the police, the lockdown quickly crumbled. It was now back to our usual business in the cities and towns, with very little regard to the danger Covid-19 posed.
What did not help was that Lesotho still had not recorded a single Covid-19 positive case at that time.

We only got a wake-up call when the first reported death from Covid-19 was reported four months down the line.
But if there was any lesson to be learnt, it was that our army is ill-suited for such a civilian operation.
We hope they have learnt their lesson and that they will enforce the new lockdown guided by the principles of respect for people’s basic freedoms.

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