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Extension is the right call



PRIME Minister Moeketsi Majoro last night extended by a week a lockdown which came into force two weeks ago to stop the spread of Covid-19. That decision was a no-brainer. The catastrophic results of Covid-19 are clear for all to see. From just 51 deaths reported by the National Covid-19 Secretariat (Nacosec) on January 1, 2021, we now have 146 dead as of Tuesday this week. Lesotho has now recorded 8 047 cases of Covid-19 since April last year. These are no longer dry statistics; these are people we know, close friends, relatives, neighbours and acquaintances. We also know that the numbers of those who have died from the virus are much more than the reported 146 since some deaths are being attributed to respiratory infections and not Covid. Each week that passes is providing irrefutable evidence and a grim reminder of the deadliness of this disease, highlighting at the same time the need for vigilance. That is why we endorse the decision by Majoro to extend the lockdown to ensure Basotho stay at home until the rate of infection goes dramatically down. Any other decision would be suicidal. Hard as it is, the extension of the lockdown was the right call. The reality is that we are still dying in intolerably huge numbers. In fact, it is clear from the stats from Nacosec that we are now in a much worse situation than we were in early January. This should of course prickle our collective conscience as a people to do the best we can to keep ourselves and our friends safe. But the reality though is that we still have some nincompoops amongst us who still argue and behave as if things are still normal, which is very tragic. We note with extreme disappointment how some of our people are still congregating at bars for a drink during weekends. That is totally unacceptable. Of course, it is not the government’s business to keep ourselves safe. It is my responsibility as an individual to do so. We must therefore play our part in fighting this deadly pandemic. While the ordinary man and woman might have occasionally let their guard down, it is the senior government officials who have also been a major disappointment. Basotho have generally resisted the call for smaller gatherings at our funerals. We still meet at large funerals, with some senior government officials attending such burials in person as well. They need to lead by example so that we do not have big funerals where the virus can spread easily. What Covid-19 has done is to seriously expose the weaknesses of our rickety healthcare system. Despite being generally spared during the first wave of the disease, we dithered and prevaricated until we were caught in a storm. Authorities in the Ministry of Health were also slow to react. The result is that this virus is now threatening to wipe us out, unless we get our act together. It has not helped that Nacosec, which was charged with fighting the pandemic, was caught up in fights with some political players seeing the institution as a vehicle for wealth accumulation. Our hospitals must be equipped with enough oxygen. Our nurses and doctors who are at the frontline, and who we salute for their heroic efforts in fighting the virus, need enough protective gear to fight the disease. They also need to be remunerated well for the risks they are taking on our behalf. These are the issues that must be resolved – now.

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