Ministry says ‘ready’ for Coronavirus

Ministry says ‘ready’ for Coronavirus

MASERU – The Ministry of Health’s Director General, Dr ’Nyane Letsie says Lesotho has put in place mechanisms to screen all travellers who are coming into the country to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Dr Letsie said the country had declared the outbreak a health emergency and had since placed health ports at the Moshoeshoe I International Airport.
She said they are there “to actively screen travellers who are coming to Lesotho”.

“We have also mobilised all the districts,” Dr Letsie said.
Dr Letsie said the health ports use personal protective equipment.
The screening is recommended temporarily by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“We have Chinese citizens that are still coming in the country,” she said.
“Like any traveller they are screened.”
She said the citizens of Lesotho “who visited other countries are also screened”.
“We wish to inform you to date that we have not had any passenger with signs and symptoms of the corona virus,” she said.

Dr Letsie said this is good news to the country.
Dr Letsie said they have prepared a clinic and two places which will be used as isolation clinics for travellers with signs and symptoms of the coronavirus.
She also said travellers from countries in which coronavirus cases have been confirmed are isolated in their own homes while waiting to see whether they will develop symptoms.

She said such travellers are telephoned to check whether they have not mingled with other people.
However, the ministry was silent on the possibilities of infecting members of their families in case they are carriers of the killer virus.
“We have their contacts and we check whether they have not developed symptoms,” Dr Letsie said.

They are isolated in their own homes for 14 days.
Dr Letsie said the ministry will next week be training nurses and doctors who will be managing suspected or even confirmed cases.
She said they will go through extensive training.

No Africans are screened for the coronavirus at the Lesotho ports of entry despite the fact that 13 countries on the continent are at the risk of the virus infection.
Dr Letsie said at all ports of entry, especially the Moshoeshoe I International Airport, travellers are screened for the killer virus.

However, thepost visited the Maseru border gate where a health official said they were screening “only travellers from countries in which the coronavirus cases have been confirmed” especially those coming from China.
When thepost arrived at the border post, people were crossing freely as if nothing had happened.
The health official said for the whole day they screened only two travellers of Chinese origin.

This is despite the fact that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified 13 countries on the African continent as being at risk of the coronavirus infection.
Yesterday, the Pharmaceutical Technology magazine said “the total number of suspected cases reported from various countries, where no case is confirmed, stands at more than 50, as of 5 February, while many other countries have confirmed cases that are on the rise”.

Countries that are said to be at risk include Algeria, Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
The WHO said these countries “either have direct links to China or handle a large volume of travel to China”.
“Effective screening mechanisms have been introduced at all major airports of these countries,” the WHO said.

The WHO representative in Lesotho, Dr Richard Banda, said this is a new pathogen.
He said it can cause severe disease and in some instances deaths.
Dr Banda said “we need to pay utmost attention because of the severity of some of the cases that the virus can cause”.

“We were allowed to make temporary recommendations to countries with regard to how to quarantine and screen suspects,” Dr Banda said.
He said there are a number of strategic interventions that they are looking at to limit human-to-human transmission.
Dr Banda said they are also looking at how they can help a country to identify, isolate but also provide appropriate treatment to those who have been identified as having the disease.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Ambassador to Lesotho, Lei Kezhong, said there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Africa.
Kezhong said that medical doctors were still to find the source of the virus.
He said that it is suspected that it came from wild animals or pets.
He said that scientists are doing all they can to detect, disclose the source of the virus and get rid of it.
He said that China has completely banned the illegal trade of wild animals.

“Intensive measures are being taken to combat the legal trade of them,” he said.
He said that the government of China has advised people, both inside and outside China, to stay at home for 14 days of self-observation – to confirm that they are not infected.

“I think it is a very good and strong way of preventing the infection,” he said.
The virus has triggered global panic with nearly 500 people succumbing to the disease in China over the past five weeks.

’Makhotso Rakotsoane & ’Mapule Motsopa


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