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Lesotho to implement 3-week lockdown from Sunday

Lesotho prime minister Thomas Thabane has announced the country will be on lockdown for three weeks.
Lesotho prime minister Thomas Thabane has announced the country will be on lockdown for three weeks.
Image: Alon Skuy

Lesotho will implement its own lockdown from Sunday midnight until April 21 to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The mountain kingdom is entirely surrounded by SA and the economies of the two countries are intertwined.

The two countries’ governments are in close consultation for a coordinated response to Covid-19.

Lesotho prime minister Thomas Thabane said the country’s two million people will remain in their homes for the next three weeks.

Only those in essential services like health, security, utilities, banking and supermarkets will be working.

“All security agencies are hereby ordered to immediately enforce the measures meant to stop this disease by controlling the movement of the people,” Thabane said.

Lesotho’s borders with SA will be closed but those supplying goods will be allowed in at commercial borders.

Thabane said Basotho in South Africa will be blocked from going home. 

“They should stay where they are now, except those who are transporting essential goods and services such as health services and food,” he said.

Nearly 15% of Basotho work in SA.  Thousands others cross in and out of Lesotho every day. Others use illegal crossing points. 

Thabane said although Lesotho does not have a confirmed case of Covid-19 his government is worried that the disease is spreading at a frightening rate in South Africa where infections have topped 900 cases.

Meanwhile, Basotho were stocking up on critical supplies like food and medicines on Thursday. There were long and winding queues at supermarkets and pharmacies.

The coronavirus crisis has already hit the textile sector, the second biggest employer after the government in Lesotho.

This week textile companies told the government they are facing bankruptcy after buyers cancelled orders and fabric supplies from Chinese mills. More than 40,000 Basotho, mostly poor women, work in textile factories.

Trade unions are warning of a major disaster when companies shut down and have appealed to the government to help pay workers.

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