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Lesotho’s response to the global pandemic

The world continues to fight a battle with the almost impossible to maintain Coronavirus also known as Covid-19 or nCov-19. The global pandemic has claimed lives of many as seen in most parts of Europe, Southern and Northern America as well as some parts in Asia and Africa. Only a few countries still remain Covid-19 free, Lesotho Included.

Despite the fact that Lesotho is surrounded and landlocked by South Africa all cases suspected to have the virus have tested negative up to this date. South Africa has reported 3034 corona virus cases, this is 251 up from the previous figures with at least 52 fatalities. With numbers of positive cases seemingly increasing each day, Lesotho frets for its citizens’ health given it cannot handle the aftermath the virus brings along with decreased life mortality.

Lesotho has implanted prevention measures from the day the virus was declared a pandemic by WHO. The honorable Prime Minister Dr. Thomas Motsoahae Thabane began by closing all education institutions and schools that was effective from the 19th March 2020 until a statement had been given out. As the pandemic continued to spiral and came closer to home, a national 25 lockdown was initiated from the 29 March 2020 at 000hrs until the 21st April 2020.

During the lockdown, only essential services were open. These included grocery shops, supermarkets, healthcare facilities, pharmacies and petrol stations to mention a few. A gazette was released following the lockdown to state the terms of the lockdown and allowed operational hours for some of the essential services.

As Lesotho is already fighting a losing battle with poverty and hunger as well as an unsteady economy, the livelihood of some of the citizens are at stake as some cannot afford to stay at home. People like street vendors, the homeless and factory workers have poured their hearts out as to how this is a difficult time for them as their survival routines have been demolished. The government together with the National Emergency Command Centre has tried to alleviate the adverse effects of the lockdown by providing a relief fund to be donated to small business, the elderly, the poor, factory workers as well as hospitality business for 3 months so they are able to recover from this reverberation. Moreover, other companies and individuals have made it their sole duty to provide for the poor and those who are unable to survive during this lockdown. One of the individuals in collaboration with the agric college has set up a COVID-19 laboratory testing site as well as offer housing for quarantine.

International students like that in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Algeria, China and India are also catered for in this harsh time they are spending away from home. The NMDS will continue to provide a satisfactory allowance so that they are able to sustain themselves until the pandemic has blown over.

Online education is expected to begin for students in higher education as a means to carry on with school content left for the semester.

So far, the lockdown is still expected to end on the 21st April 2020 but the nation still awaits the anticipated speech of the honorable Prime minister that has been postponed to the 20th April 2020. On the 15 April, the National Emergency Command Center declared a state of emergency from the mentioned date till the 28th April 2020. A state of Emergency is a situation whereby the government can determine and change the rights of citizens during a crisis, war or pandemics so as to bring stability and avoid turmoil.

Further updates will be given this coming week as the country draws nearer to the end of the national lockdown but with fear of an extension.

written by : Palesa Khotso.

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