Lesotho: Nurses Quarantined Over COVID-19

Three nurses have been quarantined after they were recently exposed to a patient who had tested positive for the deadly Coronavirus (Covid-19) in Quthing.

The trio are in quarantine since last week at a hotel in Quthing after the Lesotho Nurses Association (LNA) complained about their exposure to the Covid-19 patient. That patient had entered the country illegally earlier this month through the Quthing border and is one of four Basotho who have so far tested positive for Covid-19. The nurses were allegedly exposed to the patient on 2 June 2020 and are now attending counselling sessions while in quarantine and whole awaiting their own test results.

The nursing association has accused the Ministry of Health of knowingly endangering the trio and want responsible officers to face the music.

The LNA alleges that the ministry officials assigned the trio to attend to the patient without providing them with personal protective equipment (PPE). They were not even warned of the patient's positive Covid-19 status, the LNA alleges.

LNA Secretary General Mamonica Mokhesi said at the time of the nurses' assignment, the ministry had been fully aware that the patient had tested positive for Covid-19.

Ms Mokhesi said the nurses' blood samples were taken for testing in South Africa on Saturday and the results are pending.

"The three nurses were directly exposed to the virus after they were made to attend to a Covid-19 patient without being told that the patient might be a danger to their lives and without the necessary PPE," Ms Mokhesi said in an interview with Lesotho Times this week.

"We have a serious issue with the fact that the ministry exposed the nurses to the deadly virus without warning them or even providing personal protective equipment. We interpret that as attempted murder and someone has to account for such carelessness.

"We engaged Health Minister Motlatsi Maqelepo and senior officials in the ministry over the issue. We categorically stated that the responsible officials should be held accountable. The minister (Mr Maqelepo) asked the three nurses to submit reports on the issue and he would look into it."

Ms Mokhesi said they would follow up on the matter after the nurses submitted their reports on Monday.

Ms Mokhesi said they had also taken up the issue with the Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Kemiso Mosenene. She said Mr Mosenene promised a formal meeting to discuss this and other nurses' grievances soon.

"We have given the ministry an opportunity to address this matter. Should they fail to act, we will engage our executive and the branches who will give us guidance on how to fight for the rights and protection of our members."

Ms Mokhesi claimed this was not the first time that nurses had been negligently exposed to the virus by the ministry's officials. This had also happened in Mokhotlong but the LNA "let the matter slide", thinking it was a learning experience for the ministry, Ms Mokhesi said.

"This time around there are no excuses. We see this as recklessness and a deliberate action to endanger our members. The culprits must be taken to task," Ms Mokhesi said.

More From: Lesotho Times

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