COVID-19: Lesotho’s last African country standing

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The tiny southern African mountain kingdom of Lesotho is now officially the only African country without any coronavirus (COVID-19) infections.

This after the Comoros, the only other nation which had been virus-free, recorded its first case on 30 April.

It’s quite a feat for Lesotho. The tiny enclave of just 2, 1 million people is often in the news for the wrong reasons.

If it is not chronic instability and unstable governments collapsing after every two years, then it is chronic hunger.

The United Nations says more than a third of the population are food insecure and urgently need food aid. Lesotho is second only to eSwatini in terms of HIV-AIDS prevalence and it also has one of the highest tuberculosis rates in the world.

A gripping murder drama involving the prime minister and his wife is unfolding. Eighty-year-old Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is facing charges of murdering his then estranged wife, Lipolelo, in June 2017.

He is accused alongside his current wife, Maesaiah, who is nearly half his age.

The octogenarian is also desperately trying to bat away calls for his immediate departure by his own party, the opposition and virtually all sections of the population.  South Africa is involved in ongoing attempts to give Thabane a soft landing. Hollywood would not have made this up!

With all the negative news, the zero COVID-19 infections remain one of the few bright spots for the Kingdom which is completely hemmed in by South Africa.

It is a remarkable feat for Lesotho to be virus-free at a time when more than 3, 5 million infections and about 250 000 deaths have been recorded worldwide. It is all the more remarkable considering that South Africa has so far recorded 6400 infections and 123 deaths (figures as of 3 May 2020).

However, the authorities cannot afford to be complacent because the country’s 15 plus borders with South Africa are very porous and illegal crossings happen in both directions on a daily basis. Just one infected person illegally crossing in from South Africa could put paid to Lesotho’s proud record.

 

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