New Covid-19  lockdown looms

New Covid-19 lockdown looms

MASERU-DEFENCE Minister Prince Maliehe says the government will this weekend deploy soldiers and police to enforce Covid-19 regulations following a surge in infections.
The deployment of the soldiers and the police, the second since March, could be an admission by the government that it was struggling to keep the lid on Covid-19 infections.

The deployment of soldiers and the police comes as a fresh hard lockdown looms.
Maliehe said the deployment is meant to ensure people comply with Covid-19 restrictions particularly on social distancing.
“We have learned that some bars are selling alcohol even on weekends, which is a crime under the regulations,” Maliehe said.

He said the army will support the police to enforce the regulations.
“The army will oversee and monitor Basotho this coming weekend,” he said.
“We will not be there to attack or beat people but they should expect us.”
Maliehe’s comments come as the National Covid-19 Secretariat (Nacosec) announced a surge in infections in Lesotho triggering fears that the country could re-impose a total lockdown to stop infections.

Nacosec chief executive, Thabo Khasipe, said this might be necessary because people were no longer taking the disease seriously despite a rise in infections.
He said there has not been a significant reduction in the infection rate when the country moved from the orange colour, which is a total lockdown, to the current purple colour, which is for controlled opening of businesses.
“Because of the current situation, we are likely to go back to the orange colour, if the situation does not improve,” Khasipe said.

Nacosec said the infection rate is “three times higher than the five percent World Health Organisation (WHO) benchmark considered under control in a country”.
It says that three weeks into the purple colour the number of positive cases averaged 12 percent while the two-week average was at 16 percent.
As of Monday this week, the cumulative Covid-19 cases stood at 1 327 with 24 new infections reported while the number of deaths now stand at 33, up from 31 the previous week.

The recoveries stand at 51.8 percent.
Health Minister Motlatsi Maqelepo said it is worrying that “on weekends people drink beer while others entertain themselves without social distancing or any precautionary measures”.
“Covid-19 is not declining but becoming rifer after the nation moved from orange colour as a way of enhancing the economy that was jeopardised by the lockdown,” Maqelepo said.
“We are disappointed and dissatisfied by the high numbers that are shooting (up),” he said.

Maqelepo said his ministry’s responsibility is to help reduce the spread of the pandemic by doing enough tests so that sick people are attended to.
“We are always working hard to pass education on Covid-19,” he said.
“For the nation to combat Covid-19 the police service has to be more active to ensure that people abide by the laws.”
He added that the Local Government Ministry too has to be engaged as they are the ones who interact with the people at the village level.
“We are dissatisfied that people continue to attend funerals in large numbers.”
“We are bothered by the fact that Basotho believe that Covid-19 is over and should not be feared,” he said.
“We still have to fight Covid-19.”

He said Basotho should remember that it is a crime to drink beer in the streets.
The Local Government Minister Samuel Rapapa said those who violate the law will be arrested.
He said principal chiefs and district administrators were tasked with ensuring that people abide by the regulations.

“We also have village chiefs who also received the same message to regulate funerals and ensure that there is compliance,” Rapapa said.
“The parties and celebrations must come to a gentle stop,” he said.
He urged parents to buy their young children masks.
Police Minister ’Mamoipone Senauoane said the situation is getting out of control.

“People are not respecting Covid-19 regulations,” Senauoane said.
“Our mandate is to ensure safety and security while at the same time ensuring law enforcement,” she said.
“We have to do our job properly when things go wrong like now when people care less about Covid-19.”

Nkheli Liphoto

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