Majoro extends lockdown

Majoro extends lockdown

MASERU-PRIME Minister Moeketsi Majoro last night extended the nationwide lockdown by a further seven days.
In an address to the nation, Majoro said Lesotho will remain on the red colour, an indication it is still battling high levels of Covid-19 infection rates.
“All community activities are not allowed,” Majoro said.

He said the country’s positive rate had now declined slightly from 47 percent to 36 percent showing that the 14-day lockdown had succeeded to slow down the rate of infections.
“However, we can appreciate that the level of new infections is still high and hazardous, as a result we sat as Cabinet and decided to extend the current total lockdown,” he said.

“It starts tonight and it will end on February 3, 2021.”
The government’s decision to extend the lockdown comes at a time when Lesotho has seen a surge in the numbers of infections and deaths.
From just 51 deaths reported by the National Covid-19 Secretariat (Nacosec) on January 1, 146 people have died from Covid-19 as of Tuesday this week.

The number of those infected by the virus has now shot to 8 047.
Majoro said the situation on the ground remains extremely dangerous.
He said the government has been receiving reports from all over the country showing a surge in the numbers of those who are dying.

Majoro said the extension will work in the same way as the past 14 days.
“The curfew is still there from 7pm to 5 am,” he said.
He said the public is rightfully worried about lack of oxygen at the country’s hospitals.

“Oxygen availability has emerged as a critical problem not only affecting Lesotho but the entire region,” he said.
He said the supply situation will stabilise by next week.
“In the meantime, the government is working with suppliers daily to minimise any shortage in our health facilities,” he said.
Majoro said the whole deal will be sealed by next week and the nation will get adequate oxygen supplies.

He said the government will ensure that there is enough oxygen in the country.
Furthermore, he said Lesotho intends to procure Covid-19 vaccines under the existing arrangement but also intends to purchase supplies from other suppliers where possible.

Earlier this month the government announced that at least 430 000 Basotho would be vaccinated against Covid-19 by April.
The government said Lesotho will be fully subsidised for the vaccine to immunize 20 percent of the population.

The vaccine subsidy will be through the Gavi Covax Facility Advanced Market Commitment (AMC).
The Covax AMC is an innovative financing instrument that will support the participation of 92 low and middle-income countries so they have access to donor-funded doses of safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines.

The AMC says it will make sure that the most vulnerable in all countries are protected in the short-term regardless of income levels.
The Covax Facility is a global risk-sharing mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.
Covax is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

The government said based on national projections from the Lesotho Bureau of Statistics 20 percent of Lesotho’s population would translate to 430 115 people.
Majoro yesterday said the cabinet will meet today to give direction on the vaccine procurement and to deal with massive logistical requirements needed.

“Our commitment is to distribute this vaccine in April and this commitment remains,” he said.
He said the Minister of Health will announce the developments regarding the vaccine in the next few days.
He said our situation is still very much precarious.
“Masks must be worn by everyone when getting outside of their houses,” he said.

He said the government is concerned that funerals remain the most rampant spreader of the virus, adding that “it is shocking that people continue to violate the guidelines that regulate funerals”.
He said the government will announce additional safeguards regarding burials next week.

He added that in preparation for next week’s announcement he has ordered ministers to undertake in-depth consultations with different sectors to ensure that everyone is on board.

Nkheli Liphoto

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