Road Fund shut down


. . . as COVID-19 begins to wreak havoc in the corporate world


MASERU – The Road Fund yesterday announced it will shut down for two weeks from next Monday following a flu outbreak at its head office in Maseru, which seemed to be spreading rapidly among the Fund’s personnel. The announcement was made just a few hours after the Seboche Mission Hospital in Botha-Bothe announced it had registered three cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, one of which was the hospital’s employee. “Therefore, for the purpose of contact tracing and screening, the management has effected temporary suspension of services in order to ensure safety of the employees and the general public,” the hospital management said yesterday. The Seboche Hospital notice came hot on the heels of the statement by the Water and Sewage Company (WASCO) that it had decided to put on hold all services at its head office, also in Maseru, with immediate effect until further notice.

“We regret to inform you that yesterday, Tuesday June 30, 2020, we registered the first WASCO employee who has tested positive for COVID-19. The colleague is based at WASCO head office,” WASCO Chief Executive Officer, Futho Hoohlo, said in a memo to staff. These announcements have spread panic among citizens and rumours are rife but the Road Fund explained that its two-week break was is in line with COVID-19 protocols, both local and international, which state that people with flu-like symptoms should stay at home to avoid infecting others.

“Following a recommendation by the Road Management, the Board of Directors resolved to shut down offices for two weeks to enable staff to fully recover from the viral infection. This was also seen as the best precaution in ensuring the safety of the employees in the short and long term,” Phumla Moleko, the Fund’s public relations manager, said. “During the break, the office will be thoroughly fumigated to disinfect the whole premises and a mass testing to all staff will be conducted to ensure that those infected and affected by the viral infection get treated and will be fully recovered by the time the office reopens on July 20, 2020,” Moleko added. She said the Fund would remain functional remotely during the precautionary shutdown period.

As at 16hrs00min on Thursday, Lesotho had 35 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. The COVID-19 virus, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, without practicing respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow). WHO says 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 to 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,” advises WHO on its website.

Lesotho was the last African country to record a case of coronavirus, on May 13. On Wednesday, WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo, said there are over 400 000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Africa. It noted, “there are over 400 000 confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent – with more than 190 000 recoveries and 10 000 deaths.”

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