Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: As of Sept. 4, authorities in Lesotho have partially lifted some COVID-19 restrictions, while others remain in place.
Alert Begins 04 Sep 2020 12:19 PM UTC
Alert Expires 18 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Business and travel disruptions, entry restrictions, increased security
As of Sept. 4 authorities in Lesotho have partially lifted movement restrictions in response to the containment efforts in curbing the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19); the partial lifting of restrictions began Aug. 23. Authorities have downgraded the state of health emergency from orange (stage four) to purple (stage three), based on a five-stage severity rating system in relation to the number of active COVID-19 cases. The downgrade to purple allows for the partial easing of the following restrictions:
- All land and air borders remain closed. Cargo- and repatriation-related transport continues through some border crossings, including Maseru Bridge, Moshoeshoe I International Airport (MSU), Vanrooyens Gate, Maputsoe Bridge, Qacha's Nek, and Caldenspoort.
- Political rallies remain suspended until further notice.
- Persons are to remain at home unless traveling for essential goods and services or to attend religious gatherings and funerals.
- Senior grades in schools and universities have been permitted to reopen.
- Public transport has been permitted to operate at full capacity, providing that social distancing measures and the wearing of protective facemasks is adhered to.
- Businesses and factories are permitted to remain open, operating at full capacity, but must be divided in shifts. Additional health screenings and social distancing measures will be implemented. A record of attendance on business premises must be made each day.
- All recreational facilities, including sports, gym, and park facilities, remain prohibited 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
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.
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.