On Tuesday, April 21, Lesotho authorities announced that the nationwide lockdown, originally due to end that day, will be extended for a two-week period throughout Tuesday, May 5, in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country. As such, all businesses will be closed except for supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, petrol stations, and healthcare centers. Residents will only be permitted to leave their homes to buy food and seek medical care for the duration of the measures. Emergency responders, health workers, and security service staff are exempt from the lockdown.
The army has been deployed onto the streets of Maseru since Saturday, April 18, to "restore peace and order" following the constitutional court's rejection of Thabane's decision to suspend Parliament for a three-month period as part of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Public transport operators have been urged to strictly observe reduced passenger loads and are expected to operate from 06:00 to 10:00 and from 15:00 to 18:00 (local time).
To date, Lesotho's borders with South Africa remain closed, though cargo transportation is allowed.
As of Wednesday, April 22, there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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