First COVID-19 case in Lesotho

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Lesotho recorded its first case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the health ministry said, becoming the last country in southern and East Africa afflicted by the virus.

The ministry said it conducted 81 tests for COVID-19 on travellers from South Africa and Saudi Arabia, of which one was positive.

The remote, high-altitude kingdom was previously spared from coronavirus, although its bigger, more industrialised neighbour recorded more than 10 000 cases.

The disease struck at a time of political uncertainty, with embattled Prime Minister Thomas Thabane due to step down by the end of next week after his coalition collapsed in parliament.

His exit clears the way for a solution to a political crisis starting last year, when he and his current wife were accused by police of murdering his former wife nearly three years ago. Both deny the charges.

It is unclear when he will step down, although parliament provisionally named Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro as a replacement.

A report by the UN humanitarian aid co-ordination agency two days ago put COVID-19 case figures for East and southern Africa at 18 000, with all countries affected except Lesotho.