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The ambiguity of ‘covid-19’ deaths

As PM’s claim of full morgues is put to test

Mohloai Mpesi

In his statement regarding the country’s position in so far as the status of Covid-19 pandemic, the Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro stressed on the fact that there’s been a scaring influx of Covid-19-induced deaths hence mortuaries are literally overflowing with corpses to a point that many have even been turned down when they have brought dead bodies.

This was said as one of the influencing factors to the country’s digression to the Covid-19 Alert Level Red Lockdown, wherein the country technically comes to a standstill.

Majoro first broke the news on New Year’s Day that mortuaries are unable to take in new corpses due to the inflow of Coronavirus pandemic rising death toll which has intensely been linked to the second wave of the pandemic cited to be more deadly than the first and many people are dying without exception.

The same sentiments were shared by the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) ‘Malitaba Litaba, who alluded the scary death toll to the scare of the pandemic thus necessitating an immediate total shutdown.     

However, it has now emerged that the news is devoid of scientific statistical backing since no mortuaries have reported an unusual receipt of bodies in latter times.

Newsday talked to the main funeral services company with a national footprint.

Contrarily, Lesotho Funeral Services (LFS), confirmed to this reporter that their morgues are not jam-packed and that is it basically business as usual for most of the facilities.

LFS Head of Marketing Kelebone Sello said the mortuary is still operational although they encountered an alarming influx of Covid-19 deceased.    

“Lesotho Funeral Service has a branch network of 27 mortuaries country wide in all districts,” she said.

“In accordance with the Prime Minister and NACOSEC statements we have seen a rather alarming influx of Covid-19 confirmed and suspected deceased which we can only attribute to this second wave,” she continued adding that the morgue cannot disclose a number of Covid-19 corpses that they admitted until now.  

“We are not at liberty to share figures currently but we can confirm that all of our mortuaries are still open, fully operational and able to meet the country’s needs at this particular moment,” she said.

“We implore upon our clients and the greater nation to take necessary precautions such as washing or sanitizing their hands, practicing social distancing and to wear a mask at all the times,” she said.

As at January 14, 2021 NACOSEC’s statistics stood at 704 new tests conducted and a national cumulative of 42 501, new positive cases confirmed at 115 with cumulative of 6 356 of whom a total 1621 have recovered and 89 who have died since the announcement of the first case in the Winter of 2020.

However, NACOSEC Communications Manager, Baroane Phenethi stated that the secretariat works on the research based information and that the investigations are the main factors contributing to the delay of the results of Covid-19 deceased people.

He said the 89 deaths that appear on their update information are of the people confirmed and proven beyond reasonable doubt to be Covid-19 deaths.  

“There are people who died because of Covid-19 and that is because such cases have been investigated and proved that such people were positive. That is because such people tested, some are quarantined while others are isolated. When he or she dies we know that’s because of Covid-19.

“Some die in hospitals with signs of Covid-19 but not tested and that person stands as a suspect until the investigations are finalised. We extend our investigations by taking swabs to the labs, sometimes because of the influx of people, the results take a couple of days or a week,” he said.

“If a person dies while at home after showing the signs of the pandemic, we take the closest contact to the deceased for testing to see if he or she was not infected because we can’t make post-mortem of Covid-19 corpse, if the results of the closest contact are positive, then we can conclude that the deceased may have died of Covid-19.

“We all know that investigations take long time to finalise, so the investigations are the main factor of the delay,” he said.

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