â€¦new border restriction looms
The government of Lesotho through the Ministry of Health has procured 200 oxygen cylinders to prepare for the anticipated third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic that has already hit other countries of the world.
This was announced by the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Health Khothatso TÅ¡ooana during the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) progress report on the state of Covid-19 in the Country.
Speaking at the event held last week, TÅ¡ooana urged Basotho to continue protecting themselves against the pandemic by adhering to and complying with the basic healthy protocols against Covid-19 such continuous wearing of masks and regular washing of hands, since it appears that when the numbers of those testing positive decrease, people let their guard down.
He indicated that the government of Lesotho is working tirelessly to fight covid-19 and has prepared to make sure that all equipment necessary in the fight against the pandemic is available.
â€œLast time we experienced massive shortage of oxygen and that caused the government to continue to procure equipment that includes oxygen. The ministry has procured 100 50kg cylinders of oxygen and 100 9kg cylinders,â€ he said.
â€œDue to the high demand of oxygen worldwide it very difficult to procure it. This called for the government to increase the number of oxygen plants in the country and by the end of this month, we will be launching an oxygen plant in the district of Berea. Also in August we are expecting that LMDA will have completed its works of increasing the capacity of oxygen plants at Mafeteng Hospital and Motebang Hospital,â€ he said.
Meanwhile the Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Health Dr. â€˜Nyane Letsie indicated that in the fight against covid-19 there has to be oxygen available at the right time and in the right amounts.
â€œTill today we are still confident to say that, our hospitals have oxygen. We have an oxygen plant at Senkana in Maseru and we duly continue to refill our cylinders. But it is a well-known fact that when the virus hit hard on us the oxygen produced there was not enough,â€ she said.
Letsie indicated that in order for the country not to run short of oxygen in future the ministry of health has decided procure oxygen in order to prepare for the future.
â€œWe can confidently say that this time we more prepared than before. The plan is for every patient to have access to oxygen upon their admission either at hospital or even clinic, since we also have oxygen concentrators that will be available in our clinics. This is because we want to save lives right from the clinics,â€ she said.
Letsie stated that the ministry has released a team of health professionals to the councils with oxygen concentrators to reach out to the people who cannot reach to the health facilities in time.
â€œThe team consists of the covid-19 personnel, HIV personnel and TB personnel because signs of these diseases are similar,â€ she said.
â€œThe ministry has placed more ICU nurses and a lot of them have been sent to Mafeteng and Berea that on its own says that we will see improved services in our ICU divisions,â€ she said.
For her part, Chief Executive Officer of NACOSEC Dr. â€˜Malitaba Litaba pointed out that the numbers of the pandemic are increasing globally.
â€œIt is my expectation that everyone is aware that cases of covid-19 have been increasing exponentially because they now have different variant lately in other countries like India and South Africa as well as in Lesotho. Since our country has special relations with India as our people visit that country for medical, business and studying purposes, we are vulnerable hence we will soon also have the same strain they are having now unless we are carefulâ€ she said.
â€œWe are aware that three provinces in South Africa have also reported increasing cases and they include Free State which is just next to us. The province on its own has declared a third wave of the virus which is a threat to us because our borders are still open for any movement,â€ she said.
Said Litaba â€œEven in the country we have seen increasing numbers. All of this calls for us to do something. We know that in January we had a bad situation and we do not want to go back there. We are thinking of what can be done mainly on people moving across our borders from India or South Africa. Every person leaving or entering the country must do so because they have a valid reason for that,â€ she said.
India is ironically also the country which has been responsible for churning out Covid-19 vaccines such as the controversial Astrazaneca to most of the third world countries including Lesotho and South Africa.