A Covid-19 outbreak has affected six schools and 20 villages in the Leribe district, the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) has said.
All in all, 114 infections have been recorded this week, NACOSEC CEO ‘Malitaba Litaba said in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week.
Dr Litaba said the hardest hit is Khethisa High School where 77 learners have tested positive to the virus.
She said the Khethisa school infections were first detected on 8 June 2021. They were detected after tests in the wake of one of the grade 10 learners at the boarding school had presented symptoms of Covid-19.
After the learner’s tests at a local clinic returned a positive result, other learners how had been in contact with the pupil were traced and tested resulting in a total of 77 positive cases from the school.
She said the number of positive cases subsequently jumped to 114 after others who had been in contact with the positive learners were traced and tested as well.
Other schools that had recorded infections are Likepe High School, Joy to the World, Makhethisa, Tsunyane and Mantsonyane.
Dr Litaba also bemoaned the schools’ failure to abide by Covid-19 protocols which prescribe smaller classes and social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Upon their inspection the schools’ environment was totally untidy and congested. Some of the windows could not open,” Dr Litaba said.
She said they had planned to quarantine all infected learners and release all the negative students to go home but unfortunately the schools had since released all the learners to go home.
As a result, NACOSEC was faced with the huge task of tracing all those who had come into contact with the learners, Dr Litaba said.
She said there was a need to capacitate teachers and principals to fully implement preventive measures in schools to protect learners as well as staff at the schools.
She added that they needed to improve their working relationship with the Ministry of Education and Training to ensure that schools would implement strict measures to prevent the outbreak of Covid-19 and be sanctioned for non-compliance.
On his part, Khethisa High School principal, Tsele Masoebe, confirmed the Covid-19 outbreak at the school. Mr Masoebe said 77 out of the school’s 700 learners had tested positive.
He said most of the infected were in grades eight, nine and 10.
He admitted that the school had flouted regulations requiring maximum class sizes of 30 learners. He said each classroom accommodated 40 learners because they felt they had enough space to accommodate them.