Maqelepo allays fears after hospitals’ closure


Limpho Sello

HEALTH minister Motlatsi Maqelepo has defended the complete or partial closure of some health facilities saying it was only a precautionary measure to curb the spread of the deadly Coronavirus (Covid-19).

Five health facilities have suspended or all of their services after some of their staffers tested positive for Covid-19.

Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital (Tšepong) and Makoanyane Military Hospital suspended some of their services on Friday and Monday respectively after Covid-19 infections. At the time of the suspension of services at Tšepong, two staffers had tested positive for Covid-19. Two more cases were recorded yesterday.

At Makoanyane in Maseru, one soldier and two patients tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday.

The army’s head of public affairs, Brigadier Ntlele Ntoi this week told the Lesotho Times that they had suspended most services at the hospital until further notice.

Brigadier Ntoi said the suspension of services will allow the army to fumigate the facility to prevent the spread of the virus.

“This (suspension of services) has been done to maintain effectiveness and efficiency in catering for LDF personnel who are deployed around the country and those on routine duties,” Brigadier Ntoi said.

Only ante natal care, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS services, paediatrics and emergency services will be provided during the suspension.

Out-patient services will only be provided to army officers and their immediate families.

The police have also suspended services at their Katlehong AHF-LMPS Clinic after one of the staff members tested positive for Covid-19. The suspension was announced in a memorandum by Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli to district police commissioners and the Special Operations Unit.

Meanwhile, a staffer and two patients tested positive for Covid-19 at Seboche Hospital in Butha-Buthe on I July 2020. Tebellong hospital has also recorded Covid-19 infections but did not reveal the number. Seboche and Tebellong have both been indefinitely shut down.

Mr Maqelepo this week allayed public’s fears that the closure of health facilities meant that the virus was now out of control. He said the move was precautionary after a total of 16 health workers tested positive for Covid-19.

While conceding that the public desperately needed health services, Mr Maqelepo said temporarily closing some facilities was necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.

He said it was too risky for the facilities to continue operating when some of their staff had tested positive for Covid-19.

He said the temporary closures would enable the authorities to disinfect the facilities as well as trace and test people who had come into contact with Covid-19 patients.

“The temporary shutdown will ensure that patients do not contract the disease from the facilities. Allowing patients to access those facilities before they are disinfected is too risky.”

Meanwhile, Mr Maqelepo also revealed that some staffers at his ministry’s headquarters had also tested positive for Covid-19.

He however, did not say how many people were positive. He said staffers who had come into contact with their Covid-19 colleagues had since been identified and quarantined.

He said the offices would only open for emergencies with skeletal staff. Most of the employees will work from home, he said.

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