COVID-19: Looming crisis threatens to devastate national economy




MASERU – In a bold move to protect citizens from Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection, to contain and slow down its spread in the country in the case of yet to be detected infections, the Lesotho government at the stroke of midnight on Sunday March 29 entered a nationwide lockdown – with the exception of essential services. COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.  Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face.

The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).

At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments. WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings become available.

The novel Coronavirus risks undermining economic stability, global humanitarian and food security initiatives for the wellbeing of mankind, and as former International Food Policy Research Institute Director General, Shenggen Fan, posits “COVID-19 is a health crisis. But it could also lead to a food security crisis if proper measures are not taken.”

Every major outbreak in recent memory — Ebola, SARS, MERS — has had both direct and indirect negative impacts on global economy, but it also touches on the very economic survival of the individual in very remotest areas of world states.

This is what an ordinary worker at a village in Lesotho’s capital city, Maseru, says about the likelihood and nature of such impact on her life from COVID-19:

According to ‘Mamotheba Machakela, matron at Kubung Guest House in Naleli, extreme poverty remains the only foreseeable existence for most Basotho as the pandemic continues to pose a threat to national health – even forcing a national lockdown.

Machakela says “we have already been told not to expect salaries for the month of April, and that simply means the beginning of a bleak future in just these few months that we heard of this disease.”

“We were told by our employer that we are not going to get salaries, which is understandable because there is no business, however, we wish for government to considering subsidizing our living expenses,” she said.

COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Based on what the WHO information, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are:

People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including:

  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • People who have serious heart conditions
  • People who are immunocompromised (Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications)
  • People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
  • People with diabetes
  • People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
  • People with liver disease

Basic safety measures:

Clean your hands often

  • Wash your hand soften with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact


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