Covid-19 outbreak at Maseru Private Academy

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Limpho Sello

THE Maseru Private Academy has been forced to shut down due to a Covid-19 outbreak.

So far, four teachers at the top private learning centre have tested positive to the virus.

The academy’s director, Karl Fritz Crous, yesterday confirmed the closure of the centre barely two days after the reopening of schools from the winter break.

Mr Crous was however, quick to point out that the infected teachers had not yet reported for duty. Therefore, they had not been in contact with learners and fellow staff members, he said.

He said three of the infected teachers first reported last week that they were unwell. They subsequently reported over the weekend that they had tested to the virus. A fourth teacher reported feeling unwell on Sunday and subsequently tested positive the following day, Mr Crous said.

“I must clarify that all the teachers who tested positive have not been in contact with the learners as they were not at school,” Mr Crous said in an interview with the Lesotho Times yesterday.

“Nevertheless, the school has resolved to shut down from today (yesterday) until Monday. This will enable the school to be disinfected twice a day and all the staff to be tested to ensure that they are free of the virus. Those who test positive will have to go into self-isolation for a minimum of 10 days or until they are declared Covid-19 negative,” he added.

Mr Crous also wrote to parents of learners, imploring them to “remain calm” as the school was taking all necessary precautions to ensure the well-being of their children at all times.

“We are advising parents not to panic over speculations about the situation because we are following all the necessary protocols at all times,” Mr Crous said.

Lesotho is now officially in the third wave of Covid-19, with Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro revealing that the country is battling three highly contagious variants of the virus.

These are the South African variant, Delta variant and the United Kingdom mutation of the Lambda variant first identified in Peru last August.

Of these, the Delta variant is the most virulent with reports saying it is responsible for 83 percent of Covid-19 cases in the US.

The US is the world leader in Covid-19 cases with 36 064 180 infections and 630 582 deaths having been recorded by yesterday.

India, the country where the Delta variant was first identified, is not far behind with 31 810 427 infections and 426 319 deaths by yesterday.

A fortnight ago, Dr Majoro said the country’s positivity rate had shot up and more than 300 positive infections were now being recorded per week. The National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) reported that by yesterday, the country had recorded a cumulative 13 603 infections and 377 deaths.

NACOSEC said Leribe was the hardest hit district with high rates of infections having been recorded in schools and factories last month. This has prompted the government to roll out the second phase of its mass vaccination campaign in the district this week.

Thereafter, the vaccination programme will be expanded to Maseru, Berea and Butha-Buthe.

Addressing the media over the weekend, Health Minister, Semano Sekatle, said people will be vaccinated with Johnson&Johnson doses during the second phase.

The 302 400 Johnson&Johnson vaccines were recently donated by the United States (US) government.

One advantage of the Johnson&Johnson vaccine is that only one jab is required unlike AstraZeneca which was used during the first phase. With AstraZeneca, people have to be jabbed twice to achieve maximum protection.

Mr Sekatle said they would be targeting the elderly and people with terminal illnesses who could not be vaccinated during the first phase.

Members of the security agencies, teachers, students in tertiary institutions and workers (including factory workers, mine workers, bank staffers, civil servants) as well as the general public will also be vaccinated, Mr Sekatle said.

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