Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Lesotho continue easing COVID-19 restrictive measures as of May 19. Low-level transport and business disruptions likely.

This alert affects Lesotho

This alert began 19 May 2020 10:08 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Low-level business and travel disruptions, entry restrictions, increased security

Summary
Authorities in Lesotho have continued the easing of some restrictive measures related to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of May 19. Authorities have allowed all businesses, public services, and state companies to resume daily business operations from May 5. Schools and universities are also included in this directive, as long as they comply with the mandatory wearing of protective facemasks, sanitation, and social distancing measures. Restrictions on gatherings of more than 50 people remain in place. Public transport is only permitted to operate 0600-1900. Further information regarding measures may be issued in the coming days.

Lesotho's borders will remain closed until further notice; however, freight transport will continue. Air travel is suspended until further notice. Security forces have been deployed to enforce compliance, with additional security deployed to border areas to prevent travelers from entering the country from South Africa. Those caught contravening COVID-19 measures and restrictions will face penalties such as fines and be confined to their homes for a lockdown period, only permitted to leave for essential goods and services.

Background and Analysis
Authorities in Lesotho have reported the first COVID-19 case, being the last country in Africa to detect the virus. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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