Let’s join the fight against Coronavirus: Mokhothu
OPPOSITION Democratic Congress (DC) leader Mathibeli Mokhothu has appealed to the nation to set aside political differences and unite in the fight against the deadly Coronavirus, (also called COVID-19).
Mr Mokhothu urged the government to use part of the M700 million it had budgeted to fight COVID-19 to fund the media for education awareness campaigns about the deadly virus.
Lesotho has not reported any cases thus far. But unlike other countries it hasn’t also conducted extensive tests due to lack of testing equipment.
The government has nevertheless taken the issue head on and imposed a 21-day lockdown on Monday until 21 April 2020 as a precautionary measure to combat infections. People are expected to stay at home during the lockdown except for those working in gazetted essential services.
In a radio broadcast this week, Mr Mokhothu called on all Basotho, regardless of their political affiliation, to observe the rules of the lockdown by staying at home.
He said while the disease had negative effects on economic activities worldwide, people still had to heed the call to stay at home. While economies could be rebuilt after disasters, lives could never be regained once lost.
“It (COVID-19) is a national issue,” Mr Mokhothu said, adding, “As leaders we need people alive”.
“The government may be making a lot of mistakes in regard to information dissemination but I appeal to you all to remain calm. Staying at home is in the best interests of our people because this deadly disease is infectious.
“We will be able to rebuild economies after this pandemic but lives lost will only be regained on the resurrection day…Please stay indoors. Those in the country must stay put and not fight to go to South Africa. Those in South Africa must stay there. They must find ways of transferring monies to their families while those seeking employment must understand that there are no job opportunities in South Africa during the lockdown.”
He said government’s failure to come up with a vibrant COVID-19 awareness campaign should not be used as an excuse not to observe rules intended to protect lives. He said the government should have empowered faith and traditional leaders, counsellours, chiefs, parliamentarians, political parties and civil society organisations with resources to educate their followers about the virus.
“I do not understand why government is failing to intensify education campaigns on this disease. They have deployed soldiers and police to effect this lockdown. I think they should have also included education and awareness programmes as well.
“The government must intensify the testing exercise. Health workers must join soldiers and police on the roadblocks to test people. We should try by all means to identify this virus early so that we can save lives and ensure those who are negative remain negative.”
He urged government to avail gloves and other sanitary equipment to all essential services providers including media houses.
The opposition leader also appealed to the security agencies to carry out their duties in a respectful manner. He asked them to be patient with the public and refrain from persecuting them especially as people’s lives had already been disrupted by the virus.
He said any brutality by police and army in enforcing the lockdown could divert attention from the immediate challenge of containing the disease.
Mr Mokhothu said it was worrying that children were being left to play outside in large numbers at their homes even after schools had been closed to protect them.
He appealed to parents to ensure that children were kept apart from each other as one infected child could spread the virus to an entire community.