LESOTHO’S Coronavirus (Covid-19) infections have risen sharply from just four to 35 in just over a week.
Health Minister Motlatsi Maqelepo says the capital, Maseru, tops the list with 10 infections followed by Butha-Buthe with eight, Mohale’s Hoek (six), Leribe and Berea (three each) and Qacha’s Nek (two). Mafeteng and Mokhotlong each have one case.
“This leaves Thaba-Tseka as the only district without a confirmed case of the deadly virus,” Mr Maqelepo told journalists yesterday.
“The fact that nine districts have recorded infections puts all of us in danger of suffering deeply from this killer virus.”
However, 11 out of the 35 patients have recovered, meaning that there are 24 active cases, he said.
Mr Maqelepo appealed to the nation to abide by the public health regulations including practicing social distancing, wearing masks in public and frequently washing hands with sanitisers to avoid contracting the virus.
He said failure to comply with the regulations would result in penalties.
“We all know that there are regulations that go together with penalties for non-compliance. A person therefore needs to do the right thing to remain on the right side of the law to save lives and avoid bitter consequences,” he said.
Until last week, Lesotho only had four cases but by Sunday the infections had risen to 24 and to 35 by yesterday evening.
Addressing journalists alongside Mr Maqelepo, the Health ministry’s epidemiologist, Dr Tšepang Lekhela, said it was worrying that 10 of the country’s 35 cases were local transmissions. She said seven of these locally transmitted cases could not be traced to the originally infected people.
“We now have local transmissions which we have failed to link with the previous confirmed cases. This means that we are now getting infections from people we do not know.
“Therefore, we are now dealing with an emergency because whoever has infected these patients might still be spreading the virus to more people,” Dr Lekhela said adding the situation could get out of hand if Basotho did not change their behaviour to fully comply with public health regulations.
She said there was a challenge of people reluctant to seek medical services especially when they fell sick with common colds and influenza. She urged the public not to nurse themselves at home but seek medical attention and get tested to ensure they were virus-free.