Lesotho may tighten lockdown

Lesotho may tighten lockdown

MASERU-DEPUTY Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu says the government is considering a “hard lockdown” to prevent the spread of Covid-19 but is wary about the impact such a decision will have on lives.
Mokhothu was speaking at a press conference on Monday, a few days after Lesotho recorded its second confirmed case of Covid-19.

The cases, all imported, have wiped out the illusion that Lesotho is immune to the virus and sent the government and the people into panic mode.
Mokhothu said depending on health experts’ advice stringent lockdowns might be imposed in areas that are classified as hot spots.
“We must ensure that we arrest the pandemic so that it does not multiply,” Mokhothu said.

His statement appears to indicate that there is finally some coherence and urgency in the government’s strategy to fight the disease that has infected nearly six million and claimed just over lives 350 000 worldwide.
Until last week, Lesotho’s response to the disease appeared in disarray amid a largely ineffective lockdown and allegations of unbridled profligacy at the National Covid-19 Command Centre.

Mokhothu admitted that the government was resetting its strategy.
And on Tuesday Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro sounded the alarm when he said he is worried that Lesotho is not yet prepared for an outbreak of the Covid-19.
Speaking after a tour of the isolation centre in Berea, Majoro said the Ministry of Health should expedite the procurement of protective clothing and testing equipment.

Mokhothu announced a new sub-committee of ministers to run the National Emergency Command Centre (NECC), which has been pilloried for alleged wasteful expenditure and incompetence.
The sub-committee is made up of Local Government Minister Sam Rapapa, Water Minister Nkaku Kabi, Education Minister Ntlhoi Motsamai and Development Planning Minister Selibe Mochoboroane.
Other members include Minister Thabo Sofonea, Home Affairs Minister Motlalentoa Letsosa, Tourism Minister Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane and Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Machesetsa Mofomobe.

Communications Minister, Thesele ’Maseribane, remains the chairperson of the committee that will run for two years.  
Mokhothu said there is urgent need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and to feed people whose livelihoods have been affected by the lockdown.  
“We talked about the issue of hunger so that we will buy Basotho’s produce to help with donations,” he said, adding that the government is also worried about the spike in the prices of basic commodities.  
He said discussions on how to assist Basotho who are stranded in South Africa, some of whom are HIV patients, are still ongoing.

At the same press conference, ’Maseribane said the government will tighten the lockdown rules.
“Criminals will face the ends of justice,” ’Maseribane said.
 “We will assure that all Basotho get PPEs and get education on the pandemic.”

Health Minister Motlatsi Maqelepo said the government is alive to the potential risk of a Covid-19 outbreak.
 “We have to manage and combat the infections so that they do not stretch to every place in Lesotho,” Maqelepo said. 
He said the country’s porous borders remain a major problem.
Testing will be scaled up, he said.
The minister said those who don’t obey quarantine rules will be arrested.
Yesterday ’Maseribane said ministries should have strategies to curb the spread of Covid-19.

He told principal secretaries at a meeting that they should “devise ways and means of preventing infections, education and easing the socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 on Lesotho.
The ministries, ’Maseribane added, should be in constant consultation with their South African counterparts “on the proposed partial opening of the South African economy and how it would impact on Lesotho’s fight against Covid-19.

Nkheli Liphoto

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