Step up  Covid-19 efforts

Step up Covid-19 efforts

WE note the statements issued this week by the Ministry of Health over the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus.
With the virus now on our doorstep in South Africa, the threat has become much more ominous for us here in Lesotho.
In fact, the virus is just one passport away from entering Lesotho.

Such a scenario, given our lack of preparedness as a country, is just too ghastly for us to contemplate.
While we do not want to speak in apocalyptic terms, we still think we are facing a major crisis in the event of an outbreak in Lesotho.
China’s economy has been shaken.
The United States is shivering.

Italy, with its sophisticated healthcare delivery system, is on a virtual lockdown.
With the virus spreading like wildfire in South Africa, a country with a sophisticated healthcare system, we can only shudder to think what impact it could have on “little Lesotho”. Health Minister Nkaku Kabi admits that Lesotho does not have the necessary test kits to check the virus. We have to send any samples to Bloemfontein, South Africa, to confirm results.

That is deeply worrying.
Already the South African economy is expected to shed over a thousand jobs as a direct result of Covid-19. The ripple effects on Lesotho will likely be huge.
Yet despite the virus “giving” us ample time to put our house in order, we still appear to have been caught off-guard. Our state of preparedness over the virus has been nothing to write home about.
We still have porous ports of entry that allow people to walk through with very little being done to check if they are free from the deadly virus.
That is a shame.

Such a scenario is putting the health of every Mosotho at risk. That is why, this week’s statement by Minister Kabi, late as it was, must be commended.
We wait to see if this inter-ministerial task force that has been set up to oversee the country’s response mechanism, will live up to its mandate.
This virus means it cannot be business as usual for Lesotho. Without sounding alarmist, Lesotho could face one of its biggest existentialist threats if this Covid-19 steps on our shores.

While this virus has been in the news since late December, we seem to have been caught napping, once again.
We have been at sixes and sevens as to how to package information to ensure effective communication for the public. That has already caused unnecessary panic among the people.

Educational campaigns on basic hygiene have barely started.
That too is unfortunate. We expected that the ministry would have initiated massive campaigns to educate Basotho on how to stay clear of the virus.
We have had none so far.

Our doctors and nurses have also not been trained on how to handle this crisis. They are on the front-line and need the necessary information if they are to respond effectively and contain any outbreak.
Instead of throwing more resources into health and mobilise our international partners, our leadership remains fixated with winning political battles in our various political formations.

And we know that if there was a country that needed to be vigilant, it is us by virtue of our geographical location.
Because of our intimate proximity to South Africa we are at the mercy of any coughs in our giant neighbour.

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