COVID-19: Lesotho records first case, state urges home quarantine



MASERU – The confirmation of the first coronavirus case last week, making Lesotho the last African state to confirm an infection of the pandemic that has ravaged the globe, has led to a call by government on the nation to be more vigilant, stop unnecessary movement and adhere to home quarantine as key in fighting the disease.

Lesotho has recorded the first imported COVID-19 case on May 13 and the case is already registered in the World Health Organisation (WHO) database. Health minister, Nkaku Kabi, revealed on Wednesday last week that the infected patient was a Lesotho national who had returned home from study in the in the Middle East kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The case was detected from 1 of the 81 tests conducted on 81 individuals who had travelled from the neighbouring South African republic and Saudi Arabia.

“We had, on May 9, sent 81 samples for tests at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases in neighbouring South Africa, 51 of which were from people who just returned from the republic while the 30 others were students arriving from Saudi Arabia,” the minister said.

Kabi said 80 of the samples returned negative while one was positive for COVID-19 identified in the group of the 30 students. The minister further indicated that the patient has been kept in isolation where he will be monitored for the standard 14 days for further action.

Lesotho  went into lockdown on March 29, as a step to curb the potential spread of the deadly virus, but the tough measures that had been put in place to effect the lockdown were loosened on May 6 – allowing a myriad of non-essential services and business reprieve to begin normal operations.

WHO has promised to continue supporting Lesotho with technological expertise as well as other related needs during this period. The international body further projected that COVID-19 seems likely to remain a threat for the next two years. Kabi was flanked in this public announcement by a ministerial team comprising Director General Dr Nyane Letsie, Epidemiologist Dr Tšepiso Lekhela as well as the WHO Resident Representative Dr Richard Banda.

However, speaking immediately after the announcement of the confirmed case in the country the chairman of the inter-ministerial sub-committee leading national COVID-19 response, Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane suggested the possible reinstatement of the strict restrictions of the lockdown in order to contain the situation in light of the confirmed case.

Lesotho’s sole neighbour, South Africa, has to date recorded more than 14 000 confirmed cases and making it the highest in infections in Africa. The continent has confirmed almost 70 000 cases that have resulted in 2 241 deaths and 23 857 recoveries reported by the WHO.




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