Illegal border crossings worry Thabane

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Limpho Sello

LESOTHO is at risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) infections from South Africa by Lesotho nationals illegally crossing back into the country, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has said.

Lesotho is officially the only African country yet to record any cases of the deadly Covid-19 which had infected close to 3, 8 million people and killed over 260 000 worldwide by yesterday.

Lesotho is completely surrounded by South Africa which had recorded just over 7572 infections and about 148 deaths by yesterday. Despite the ongoing lockdown in South Africa and the closure of borders between the two countries, many Lesotho nationals are taking advantage of other porous crossing points to illegally enter the country.

South Africa wholly rings Lesotho and there is no physical barrier separating the two countries.

In his televised address to the nation on Tuesday, Mr Thabane warned that the illegal movements could spread Covid-19 infections into Lesotho.

“Up to now, the graceful God is still keeping us safe because we still haven’t recorded a single case of coronavirus,” Mr Thabane said.

“However, the situation remains worrisome because of the increasing number of cases in South Africa and the growing number of illegal movements of Basotho from South Africa to Lesotho, particularly because they are using the porous borders”.

Mr Thabane said he had since ordered the security forces to monitor the situation at the ports of entry to prevent the illegal crossings. He also appealed to the nation to adhere to health regulations prescribed by the Ministry of Health to prevent the spread of the virus.

Quthing District Administrator Motete Mokonyane yesterday echoed the premier’s remarks, saying the growing number of illegal movements between South Africa and Lesotho put the nation at risk of Covid-19 infections.

Mr Mokonyane said Quthing was a hotspot for illegal crossings.

“On Monday, 211 people crossed in to Lesotho from different parts of South Africa. On Tuesday we received reports that more than 70 people came in during the night.

“Some of these people are currently at the government hospital and we expect them to be taken to quarantine facilities in Quthing or Mohale’s Hoek,” Mr Mokonyane said.

Meanwhile, the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) this week said more than 40 people had illegally entered the country through the Dili-Dili and Hleoheng borders in the Quthing and Leribe districts respectively. In a statement, the LDF said the illegal returnees would be sent for screening and quarantined at various quarantine centres.

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