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We must brace for Covid-19 tsunami



ELSEWHERE in this issue we carry a story of how thousands of Basotho without being screened for Covid-19 are trekking back home from South Africa for the Christmas holidays. Their return home without being subjected to the mandatory Covid-19 protocols could trigger a massive explosion of infections in the new year. If that happens, we could be staring at a monumental disaster in terms of infections in the next four weeks or so. That prospect is frightening. The reasons are clear. In fact, our weak health delivery system could easily be overwhelmed by a pandemic that is wreaking havoc across our borders in South Africa. Our proximity to South Africa, and our intimate connections with that country, means we are in the eye of a storm. But for reasons that only God knows, we have largely been spared from the massive impact of the pandemic with just over 2 000 infections since the disease’s outbreak. Sadly, we have lost close to 50 of our compatriots to the disease. Lesotho has been battling to buy personal protective clothing for doctors and nurses. Testing kits have been in short supply and hospitals remain ill-prepared for the pandemic. As captured on social media, Basotho are crossing back into Lesotho from the Eastern Cape in South Africa using illegal crossing points at Tele bridge and many other places on our porous borders. We know fully well that the Eastern Cape has been one of the epicentres of the disease that has mowed down over 21 000 South Africans since March. Despite the vast economic resources at its disposal, it is clear that South Africa has battled to contain the disease. We are not surprised that President Cyril Ramaphosa this week imposed further restrictions on certain activities to contain the spread of the pandemic. Sadly, while the region and the rest of the world are in panic mode, it is business as usual in Lesotho. Pandemic fatigue seems to have set in and we are back to our usual ways. We have generally stopped sanitising our hands. We have stopped social distancing practices and the wearing of masks, apart from shops that are still enforcing the practices. Basotho will soon need to quickly wake up from this slumber or pay a huge price in the new year. We have already seen how other countries are reeling from this pandemic as the disease takes its toll. It would be a pity were we to experience loss of lives at such a magnitude. The reality is that we have no capacity to deal with this pandemic. Our best bet is to ensure that we stay clear of the virus and stop infections. To that end, the government of Lesotho must step up the game and do all it can to stop the illegal crossings into Lesotho. If we don’t, we could be putting the lives of Lesotho’s 2 million people at risk. While this has been going on Home Affairs Minister Motlalentoa Letsosa has been battling to ensure Basotho have a safe passage back home. It is high time that Lesotho’s home affairs ministry puts its house in order by providing adequate travel documents to Basotho working across the border. We must urgently fix these domestic issues first before approaching South Africa for help.  

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