Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest

Situation Report
Lesotho — Trends

27 persons with COVID-19 confirmed in the country

  • First case: 13 May

  • Total cases: 27 (as of 28 June 2020)

  • Total deaths: 0

  • Schools: Closed (579,807 learners affected)

  • Borders/Flights: All travellers are screened for coronavirus.

  • Containment measures: National Emergency declared 28 March, restricting all movements and closing all non-essential services.

On 28 June, the Ministry of Health confirmed 27 people individuals have contracted COVID-19 in the country. As the country has no testing capacity to date, it relies on South Africa to test people who might have been in contact with the virus. The newly appointed Health Minister Motlatsi Maqelepo, quoted by the media, said that he is working to have a local COVID-19 laboratory up and running in Lesotho as soon as possible. The Lesotho Medical Association have raised concerns over the lack of basic medical supplies and claimed they would not be able to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak should it escaltes in the country.

Before the confirmation of the first case on 13 May, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane had loosened on 6 May some of the lockdown restrictions, allowing shops not classified as essential services to temporarily reopen. All other measures remain in place, including a ban on social gatherings, except for funerals and mandatory quarantine for all travellers. All schools are closed, leaving an estimated 390,000 children without access to school meals, according to WFP. Since the beginning of the National State of Emergency on 28 March, the Prime Minister and Police Commissioner have called on law enforcement agencies to uphold people’s rights during the lockdown period. However, there have been reports of excessive use of force by security officers and the Government also informed about an increasing on criminal activities during the lockdown. On 18 April, the Prime Minister deployed the army onto streets to ‘restore peace and order’, claiming law enforcement institutions were undermining democracy. His announcement on national television came a day after the Constitutional Court overturned his 3-month suspension of Parliament as part of the coronavirus lockdown extension declared on 17 April, according to media reports.

Prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic, more than a quarter of the population in Lesotho - over half a million people - were facing severe food insecurity as the result of a devastating drought. Humanitarian partners launched a Flash Appeal to respond to the most urgent and life-saving needs, which is just 10 per cent funded. Response:

  • A M700 million (approximately US$38.6 million) fund has been set aside for the National COVID-19 Response Integrated Plan 2020, more than half of which will be used for health care personnel and purchase of critical goods and services, with the remainder covering logistics, security, and border management.

Official sources:

Government of Lesotho webpage and COVID-19 National Command Centre

Other links:

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Responses to COVID-19, by IMF