Lesotho’s PM isolating with Covid as cases ‘go unrecorded’

Medics fear government is failing to gather data as ‘social media conspiracies’ slow vaccination take-up

Lesotho’s prime minister, Moeketsi Majoro, has said he is isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, as doctors warned that the true tally of cases in the country was going unrecorded.

Majoro tweeted that he had taken a travel-related test that came back positive.

He said: “May I advise anyone who has been in close contact with me recently to rush for PCR testing to ensure your safety.”

Majoro’s spokesman, Buta Moseme, said the prime minister would remain in quarantine at home, although he was not showing any symptoms.

He said Majoro’s oxygen saturation and other tests were satisfactory and that the public should remain calm.

In the statement, Majoro said: “The important message is that even when you are vaccinated, you should still follow WHO and Ministry of Health Covid-19 protocols at all times.

“Being vaccinated should not bring about reckless behaviour as an infected person can infect other people who are not vaccinated,” he said.

Lesotho, with a population of 2.1 million, has recorded more than 3,000 new Covid-19 cases from the start of May to 10 August. The virus has killed 391 people.

A doctor at a private clinic in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, is among those concerned that the National Covid-19 Secretariat is failing to gather data.

“In the last month alone, we have seen over 100 patients who are Covid-19 positive but the secretariat has never collected our data,” he told the Guardian.

Lesotho had only received 36,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine until July, when the US delivered 302,400 Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

The government has started to administer the doses, and a further 108,000 have since been delivered. The last batch was procured using $1m (£700,000) donated by the Vodacom Foundation to Lesotho in April.

While the vaccines are welcome, medical staff have said the government is not doing enough to persuade an indifferent public to get vaccinated.

The lack of information has also been blamed for the slow progress in testing and vaccine rollout. Just over 140,000 tests have been conducted, as of 10 August, and more than 13,000 have been positive so far.

“People have no information and they are relying on social media. This means they are not getting accurate and reliable information and this is why there is so much apathy,” said a nurse who did not want to be identified.

“The public is hesitant because of social media conspiracies.”

Contributor

Silence Charumbirain Maseru

The GuardianTramp

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