14 die of Covid in a week

14 die of Covid in a week

MASERU – FOURTEEN people have died of Covid-19 in the last week with another 90 testing positive to the deadly virus in the textile sector, thepost heard this week.
The surge in infections has sent shockwaves in a sector that has been hit hard by the virus.

The National Covid-19 Secretariat (Nacosec) said the deaths happened between Thursday last week and Tuesday this week.
Out of the 2 886 people who were tested for Covid-19 in the last week, 250 had tested positive.

The Independent Democratic Unions of Lesotho (Idul) secretary general, May Rathakane, said workers have been “engulfed in a Covid-19 flame”.
Rathakane said his union received reports of 75 workers who had tested positive at the Tai-Yeng Garments.
He said the workers were sent home for self-quarantining immediately after they tested positive.

“The following day at the same factory another 15 workers tested positive for Covid-19,” Rathakane said, adding that “they were also sent home”.
Two weeks ago, factories in Maseru West industrial area temporarily shut down after one of the Chinese managers died of a Covid-19-related illness.
Rathakane said they were worried after one factory was shut down due to a Covid-19 case only to reopen the following day.
“This issue of Covid is hurting us as the workers do not earn anything in the 14 days they close for isolation,” he said.

Moreover, he said it is the responsibility of the employer to pay the workers even when they are in quarantine for 14 days.
He said even the Prime Minister’s speech last week did “not say anything about helping workers during these hard times”.
“The Chinese have been vaccinated but one has died, yet the Health Ministry did not issue a statement about anything that is happening in the factories,” he said.

He added that they met Trade Minister Dr Thabiso Molapo three weeks ago asking for a labour policy to help reduce the Covid-19 stigmatisation in the factories.
He said there is need to end stigmatisation because the employers do not want workers to talk about their Covid-19 status publicly.
He complained that some factories were not shutting down even after some workers tested positive.

Rathakane said various factories are also battling a third Covid-19 wave.
He said while the country’s elites have been vaccinated, factory workers, who work in overcrowded places, remain unprotected.
Even in taxis as they go to work or home there is no recommended social distancing, which puts workers at risk of infection hence the need to urgently vaccinate them, he said.
“Why do we have to fight for everything to happen,” Rathakane said.
Rathakane also recommended that the government should start sensitising the workers about Covid-19 vaccines and their importance.

“The employers encourage those who tested positive not to disclose (their results) to save testing costs,” he said.
The company’s human resource officer, Retšelisitsoe Moshoeshoe, told thepost that they conducted the rapid tests,” which we doubt their credibility “.
Moshoeshoe said they cannot consider the rapid test results because those who tested positive come back negative after being tested for the second time.

“Their results come back negative from Bloemfontein, so these rapid tests are highly questionable”
Meanwhile, the government last week received the third batch of 302 400 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines from the US Embassy.
The consignment was part of the 25 million doses that have been donated to African countries through the COVAX facility, in close coordination with the African Union (AU) and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro said the sooner everybody can be vaccinated, the more likely we are to win the fight against the virus.
“We are excited and extremely happy to receive the vaccines,” Majoro said.
He said they will start a new round of vaccinations.
“The sooner the programme roll-out starts, the better Basotho are going to be,” he said.

He said they were expecting another 260 Sinopharm doses from China, that will be distributed to 130 people.
He said it was important to get vaccines early because Corona virus has damaged economies and drove countries into poverty.
“The sooner we can reopen our economies the better. It is important to get as many vaccines as possible before the end of this year because stretching this out by a year also means stretching our poverty by a year,” he said.
We need more vaccines, he said.

Health Minister Semano Sekatle thanked the US for the ‘huge’ gift.
“It will go a long way to help Basotho,” Sekatle said.
US Ambassador Rebecca Gonzales said the donation embodied the continuation of US global leadership in public health and the international Covid-19 response, which is critical in ending this pandemic.
“This donation underscores the reality that Covid-19 remains a serious threat,” Gonzales said.

She said since the start of Covid-19, the US government has contributed nearly US$6 million (approximately M86 million) to help Lesotho.
She urged the government to ensure the ‘swift and equitable’ distribution of the vaccines across 10 districts, prioritising people whose health conditions make them vulnerable.

The Acting United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Betty Wabunoha, said the UN remains a committed partner with the government of Lesotho to ensure that people have access to the vaccines as they become more available globally.
“We are pleased to see as partners working together to ensure eligible access to vaccination and delivery of timely vaccines,” Wabunoha said.

Nkheli Liphoto & ’Mapule Motsopa

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