Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane Picture: GCIS
Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane Picture: GCIS

Lesotho records first Covid-19 case a week after lifting lockdown

By IOL reporter Time of article published May 13, 2020

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Until Tuesday, the tiny southern African mountain kingdom of Lesotho had been the only Covid-19-free country on the continent.

Lesotho recorded its first Covid-19 case on Wednesday, the health ministry said, after conducting 81 tests on travellers from South Africa and Saudi Arabia.

There is a likelihood that more cases could be recorded before the end of the week after the ministry said it was awaiting results for 301 cases.

The inter-ministerial committee tasked with spearheading Lesotho’s Covid-19 response tweeted that the positive case “was imported from the Middle East and the patient has no signs and symptoms”.

The first positive case comes a week after the country lifted its national lockdown. Lesotho’s lockdown started on 30 April and lasted until 5 May. 

The lockdown was lifted against the advice of the inter-ministerial committee, which said the country was not prepared to deal with a possible outbreak since its quarantine facilities comprised just 148 beds.

“To date, we have sent 597 specimens for testing at NICD (National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa), 295 are negative and 301 are still pending,” the health ministry said.

The disease has struck at a time of political uncertainty in Lesotho, with Prime Minister Thomas Thabane due to step down by the end of next week after his coalition collapsed in parliament.

His exit would clear the way for a solution to a political crisis that erupted late last year when he and his current wife were accused by police of murdering his former wife nearly three years ago. They both deny the charges.

It is unclear when he will step down, although parliament has already provisionally named Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro as his replacement.

By Wednesday afternoon, Africa had 69 764 confirmed cases of Covid-19, 2 421 deaths and 23 857 recoveries, according to a Reuters tally based on government statements and World Health Organisation data.


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