By Staff Writers

Maseru, March 18 (The Night’s Watch) – Prime Minister Thomas Thabane on Wednesday declared a national emergency over the coronavirus pandemic as public life across the world continues to grind to a halt.

Concerns about the coronavirus rippled across the globe, as schools closed to millions of students; important events cancelled and landmarks shuttered.

Thabane also announced several response measures to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The prime minister, addressing the nation on live TV after a special Cabinet meeting, announced measures which include a ban on “big” public gatherings, and a compulsory 14-day quarantine in designated facilities at own cost for people arriving from severely affected countries.

He said all Basotho students who are returning from South Africa and other affected countries will also face intensive screening upon arrival at the borders and a compulsory 14-day quarantine for those returning from severely affected countries.

He advised citizens to not attend big gatherings, including funerals and weddings.

He said social distancing in all public areas will be promoted and enforced.

Thabane announced that schools will be closed from March 19 and would remain closed until April 17.

 “All schools will close on March 19 to reopen on April 17,” he said.

He urged all Basotho nationals living abroad “to remain at their current locations” and not come to Lesotho for Easter holidays “to minimize risk for transmission”.

These are other measures now in place:

  • Government will support students in affected foreign countries for their daily living in consultation with the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS).
  • All Lesotho Missions abroad will motivate and encourage the students on continuous basis during this crisis
  • Management of all institutions will ensure that they implement Work place programs to improve safety (ventilation of buildings, promoting of cough etiquette) and hygiene for workers through provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and sanitizers.
  • Educating community on corona virus in order to facilitate compliance.
  • Observing moment of prayer daily at 12 noon
  • Government will enhance collaboration between itself, civil society and private sector
  • Government will carry out the epidemiological surveillance and mortality rate on COVID-19 in the country
  • The Cabinet will meet every two days to review progress. NW

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