Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities in Lesotho reinstate lockdown measures July 20 as COVID-19 cases increase. Travel and business disruptions likely.

  • Alert Begins: 20 Jul 2020 01:27 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 03 Aug 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

Authorities in Lesotho have reinstated lockdown measures July 20 in response to the increasing number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases. Authorities have established a five-stage system based on the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, which informs the measures and restrictions implemented. Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, authorities have escalated Lesotho to stage four. Restrictions and measures implemented at this stage are as follows:


  • All schools and universities are closed until further notice.


  • All religious gatherings remain prohibited, with funerals limited to 10 people. Wedding attendance is limited to five people.


  • All political rallies are prohibited until further notice.


  • Businesses and factories are permitted to remain open, operating at 50 percent capacity. Additional health screenings and social distancing measures will be implemented. A record of attendance on business premises must be made each day.


  • All recreational activities, including sports, gym, and park facilities, will be prohibited until further notice.


Lesotho's land and air borders will remain closed until further notice; however, freight transport and emergency services will continue. Citizens of Lesotho are permitted to return to the country but will be subject to self-isolation for 14 days while awaiting COVID-19 test results. 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
As of July 20, there are 359 reported COVID-19 cases in Lesotho, with six confirmed deaths. 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.

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