PRIME Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro has announced a complete shutdown of the country for the next two weeks, owing to the overwhelming infection rate of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the skyrocketing related deaths recorded.
In his address on national television on Tuesday night, the premier said the two hospitals located in Mafeteng and Berea that were earmarked for treating COVID-19 patients are inundated, as they have insufficient Intensive Care Unit (ICU) facilities to cater for all the patients in their care.
“The expectation is that; if the country continues to operate as usual, the number of infections will increase substantially, leading to higher death rates, which have already caused mortuaries to overflow, with a sharp shortage of coffins,” he said.
The rest of the local hospitals and clinics, Dr Majoro said are also brimming with patients who need special attention, which has put an extra strain on the already overstretched health care system.
With the exception of agencies that offer essential services that include among others health, fuel, food, transport and security, the rest of the country has been ordered to remain at home for the next two weeks.
Earlier this week, disgruntled members of the Lesotho Nursing Association (LNA) had also called for the total shutdown of the country, urging Dr Mojoro to intensify restrictions because the country is not ready to handle the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nurses’ call has therefore received a positive response with the prime minister’s decision to cut all movements throughout the country effective from Thursday.
President of LNA Raphael Tlali had complained that the local health institutes including hospitals and clinics operate under pathetic conditions with insufficient supply of oxygen, running water and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
In a letter addressed to the Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) commonly known as Tšepong, Mr Tlali had called for immediate salary increase for members of LNA, including nurses and assistant nurses.
The remunerations, he said should not in any way be lower than the government salary scales.
“For a very long time, nurses and assistant nurses working for the Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital have been under-paid, yet they are the backbone of the health care system in Lesotho.
“They work long hours and all hospitals and clinics refer patients to them but they are the least remunerated,” Mr Tlali said in a letter written on Monday.
Apart from that, he said there are health workers who are in the frontline of COVID-19, requesting that they be remunerated accordingly for the dedication they have shown to their respective organisations and the nation at large.
“COVID-19 is dangerous and is costing them their lives, the least their organisations can do is to compensate them accordingly,” he also said, adding that all professionals in other sectors, who work in the frontline in the fight against COVID-19, should also be properly compensated.
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“Some of the nurses and assistant nurses whose contracts were renewed in October 2020, have not yet received their monies to date, and if they continue not getting paid, there will be no services provided after a period of one week from now,” he said.
He therefore warned all health care providers to always protect themselves and their families from the pandemic, urging them to stay away from situations that compromise their safety.
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