By Staff Writers

Maseru, March 16 (The Night’s Watch) – The Ministry of Health is anticipating a potential influx of patients sickened by the new coronavirus, and is putting on a brave face.

But there is another narrative at play:  nurses feel left in the lurch.

The Lesotho Nurses Association (LNA), an association that protects and advocates for the welfare of nurses, is not convinced that the country’s health system is equipped to weather the coming storm.

The nurses are afraid of protective supplies running low and contracting the virus themselves – and passing it to the loved ones.

In china, over 3,300 health workers were sickened by the virus, and about 13 died.

In a statement on Monday, the association said while it “recognizes and embraces efforts of the Ministry of Health towards corona virus”, it has an impression that the country’s health system is not ready for this very serious pandemic and called on all government ministries to work together with the Ministry of Health to fight the disease.

Lesotho currently has no positive cases of coronavirus.

The neighbouring South Africa now has 62 confirmed and verified cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

As the virus continues to spread across South Africa, public life is increasingly shut down.

South Africa’s president on Sunday announced an indefinite ban on gatherings of more than 100 people.

And as South African are asked to isolate themselves, South has also stepped up plans to isolate itself from the world with travelers from the high-risk countries, China, Italy and Iran among others, barred from entering the country.

Lesotho is an enclave surrounded by South Africa.

In the statement on Monday, the nurses’ association’s president, Raphael Tlali, indicated that the country’s screening for COVID-19 “is not yet robust”. The association said it hopes government will strengthen screening at the borders.

Tlali said there is “a need for mass screening in every populated area such as bus stops, taxi ranks, workplaces and schools”.

“All nurses, nursing students and other healthcare workers must receive the highest level of protection in the workplaces, as determined by the precautionary principle,” he added.

Tlali further indicated that nurses need protective coveralls that meet health standards, gloves, temporary scrubs, and other N95 masks.

“Any nurses who may acquire COVID-19 should be given non-cumulative and paid sick leave of 21 days as nurses will be in the front-line in the management of COVID-19,” he said.

“The Occupational Safety and Health Administration should disseminate an Emergency Temporary Standard to protect healthcare workers from emerging infectious diseases like COVID-19 as soon as possible,” he added.

“This also calls for the mining industry, transport industry, factories, schools, colleges and universities, and other highly populated workplaces management to fast-track development of apparent occupational health and safety measure and guidelines.”

COVID-19 is a virus strain, first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, that has only spread in people since December 2019.

It is primarily spread through respiratory droplets, which means to become infected, people generally must be within six feet of someone who is contagious and come into contact with these droplets.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.

On March 11, WHO publicly characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic.

This is the first pandemic known to be caused by the emergence of a new coronavirus. NW

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