Health Minister Motlatsi Maqelepo today said Lesotho has been welcoming large numbers of visitors from South Africa and other countries since the beginning of the month raising the possibility of a surge of Covid-19 in the country.
South Africa was placed under lockdown level 3 on Tuesday after more than one million coronavirus cases were recorded in that country. More than 27 000 people have died of the disease in South Africa.
Speaking at a press conference, Maqelepo said the number of visitors to Lesotho increased until Christmas Eve.
He said about 130 000 people – some of them Lesotho nationals working in South Africa – entered the country.
“About 20% of the visitors had Covid-19 clearance certificates,” said Maqelepo.
He said the visitors presented two problems. The first one being the possibility of spreading the virus, especially in villages.
The second problem was the cost of Covid-19 tests. Many people do not have money for the tests.
Maqelepo said the ministry of health will facilitate the tests, adding: “That will help us determine the number of people infected in the villages.”
He said hospitals in every district will set up a facility, where swabs will be taken from people for testing.
“This will commence from tomorrow,” said Maqelepo.
He said 200 samples will be taken from each district every day.
The swabs will be sent to labs for coronavirus testing and the results will be relayed to affected persons.
The health minister said people requiring Covid-19 clearance certificates to cross back into South Africa will also be assisted.
“Operation will begin from 08:00 until 12:00. It will be a first come first serve basis taking into account the tests must be taken 72 hours before travelling,” said Maqelepo.
“The certificate should be issued the next day and taken back to the district.”
Apart from a valid passport, a work permit, special permit, or study permit, Maqelepo said persons must produce a certificate showing they are free of the coronavirus before they can be allowed into South Africa.