Covid-19 crisis badly managed

Covid-19 crisis badly managed

THE announcement by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane that the government was partially lifting the lockdown has been well received by Basotho and the entire business sector.

Although the lockdown was not enforced with the same gusto we have seen in South Africa, there were already signs of fatigue as well as anger among the populace.
The army and the police did not cover themselves in glory either after they were accused of exuberance when they tried to enforce the lockdown during the initial phase.

The result is that the security agencies eventually pulled out from the streets, leaving Basotho to self-police during the lockdown.
The result was almost a complete collapse of the lockdown.
Yet in partially lifting the lockdown, we must remain wary as a people and ensure that we do not open up ourselves as a country for cross-contamination.

It would be an act of folly were we to quickly open up our borders to outsiders. The borders and the international airport must remain closed for foreign nationals for the foreseeable future.
While we still remain fortunate not to have a single confirmed case of Covid-19, we must remain wary of the potency of the disease and the massive impact it would have on our rickety health delivery system.

That requires that we rather err on the side of caution by partially lifting the lockdown and encouraging other practices such as social distancing and the washing of hands to keep the virus at bay.
If we let our guard down, we risk being overwhelmed by the virus given our weak health delivery system.

The last five weeks have clearly exposed that we have no capacity to handle a massive disaster of this magnitude.
Even during these very initial stages, it is clear that we have managed the Covid-19 response badly.

There have been very few tests that have been done by the Ministry of Health. The number of tests that have been conducted are a pale shadow of what our neighbours in South Africa have done.
It is clear that we have no capacity, financial or technical, to conduct the necessary Covid-19 tests. 

Despite promises to deliver emergency food parcels to the poorest of the poor in our villages, we still have not managed to deliver on our promises.
Lesotho has a very weak private sector. But it is scary that even these companies are now in distress after five weeks of no trading.

The government had promised to support these companies so that they do not go under. This has left hundreds of companies starring at the precipice. The prospects of massive retrenchments are now real.
That would be a massive blow to Basotho who are already grappling with over 45 percent unemployment.

The perception among Basotho is that our politicians have used the Covid-19 response to fatten their pockets. That is unfortunate.
While our fate is closely intertwined with that of South Africa because of geographical proximity, the government has had to fend off allegations that it was merely mimicking the approach by our neighbours.

From all this, it is clear that we have mismanaged the Covid-19 response. The interests of business sector must however not override serious health concerns.
That will require a delicate balancing act between these two competing interests.

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