Pneumonia- related  deaths spike

Pneumonia- related deaths spike

 MASERU-THE Ministry of Home Affairs is worried about a sudden upsurge in the number of pneumonia-related deaths at a time when the country is battling to deal with the Covid-19.

Tumelo Raboletsi, director of civil registration, has told the thepost pneumonia-related deaths are 49 percent higher between January and May this year compared to the same period last year.
Part of Raboletsi’s job is to register deaths and their causes.

He said he is alarmed that most deaths in recent months have been attributed to pneumonia, the disease that also affects Covid-19 patients.
“I have since advised the Ministry of Health to investigate the deaths and find out what is happening,” Raboletsi said.

“I am not a doctor or a health professional but I work with them all the time as I give them statistics so that they analyse and make their own conclusions,” he said.

Covid-19 can spread to the lungs causing pneumonia.
Raboletsi said he did not want to conclude that these pneumonia deaths were caused by Covid-19, saying “it is up to health professionals to say that”.
“All I gave them is the numbers and asked them to investigate,” he said.
Efforts to contact the Health Director General, Dr ’Nyane Letsie, were not successful last night.

But Raboletsi said Dr Letsie herself contacted him and they talked at length about the pneumonia deaths.
Raboletsi has shared the information with the European Union and the African Union civil registry officials.

He also sounded an alarm in a recent post on Twitter.
“Given that one of the causes of pneumonia is Covid-19, the sharp rise in pneumonia related deaths calls for government to pay more attention and or start investigating further some of these pneumonia related deaths,” he said.

“The situation may be worse than what we are seeing.”
Raboletsi said his office will implement verbal autopsy for deaths happening outside health facilities.
“In order to save the lives of our people, we urgently need to know that which is killing our people today.”

“That’s the value of investing in civil registration.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health Motlatsi Maqelepo has reported that Lesotho’s confirmed cases of Covid-19 have increased from 29 to 35.
“It is worrying how rapidly cases rise – it is an unusual rate,” Maqelepo said, adding that Basotho have to avoid crowded places to curb the spread of Covid-19.  

“For us to achieve it, we have to work hard to ensure that people do not gather together.”
The ministry said is worried that people are still attending funerals and visiting bars in huge numbers.
The government’s order that only 50 people should attend a funeral appears to have been largely ignored.

“It is easy, there is no reason to attend a funeral of someone one is not related to,” he said, adding that “from now I will no longer attend funerals that don’t affect me directly until things get better”.
He said it should be a norm to either sanitise or wash hands with soap as often as possible.

“Our lives have changed,” he said.
He said contact tracing is still a major problem.
“We are still looking at ways to address it. This is a war against the entire country. Let’s fight it together,” he said.

The Ministry of Health’s Epidemiologist Dr Tšepang Lekhela, said 25 of the 35 confirmed cases were of travellers and 10 of them do not have travelling history.
“We have local transmission cases by unknown people. It should be a game changer,” she said.

She said part of the problem is that Basotho are reluctant to visit health centres when they have flu.  

“You can treat yourself and get well but it doesn’t mean that person did not infect others and at times it can be someone with a weak immune system.”
“We should stop thinking that it is only those from abroad who can infect us,” she said.

Staff Reporter

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