THE newly appointed chief executive officer of the National Emergency Command Centre (NECC), Thabo Khasipe, says he will prioritise the improvement of the country’s health infrastructure to cope with Coronavirus (Covid-19) infections.
Mr Khasipe, who is also commissioner general of the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA), was appointed to the NECC a fortnight ago by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro.
He was introduced to government officials and media by the premier at the ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre on Tuesday.
Outlining his Covid-19 response strategy, Mr Khasipe said his aim was to increase the number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds to 1000 from the current 10. He said they would also increase the number of normal hospital beds and upgrade other hospital infrastructure. He said this would ensure that patients and those suspected of Covid-19 infections would not be turned away due to inadequate hospital facilities to accommodate them.
“We are not going to prevent the virus from infecting people but we are going to flatten the curve of possible deaths,” Mr Khasipe said.
“What makes Covid-19 especially dangerous right now is the fact that our health system’s capacity is very low. We have a low ICU capacity of just 10 ICU beds in the whole country.
“That means only 10 people can occupy those beds and if the next person comes in, they are likely to die due to shortage of facilities. We have to increase our current ICU beds to at least 1000. We must also recruit and train temporary medical professionals and equip them with necessary resources to reduce needless deaths.”
Mr Khasipe said the NECC had used a SIRD (susceptible, infected, recovered, dead) model to simulate the virus and understand how it spreads under different scenarios. This is necessary to come with a plan of action to combat the virus.
“The simulation predicts that if the infection rate is at 60 percent due to lack of action, about 1 million people could die from the virus in a year’s time.
“But by lowering the infection rate though observing safety protocols we are likely to save about 100 000 lives in a year.”
He said they would also approach different stakeholders including the private sector and donor community for resources to build the country’s Covid-19 response.