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Lesotho’s suspected COVID-19 patient dies

The Mountain Kingdom’s health ministry said seven patients had tested negative, but it was waiting for three results, including for the deceased patient.

FILE: A picture taken in Maseru, on 31 January 2020 shows the flag of Lesotho outside the Parliament building. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - One of 10 people suspected to be coronavirus (COVID-19) positive in Lesotho has died while the country waited for some of the tests sent to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in South Africa.

The country has been on lockdown since Monday but has no confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Lesotho’s response team to the virus appeared to be struggling with the demand for testing. It said seven samples were initially sent to the NICD and came back negative.

And the sample of the deceased patient, plus two new suspected cases, were sent to the NICD on Wednesday.

It was not clear why local testing had not started after 20,000 test kits donated by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma arrived on Thursday.

But ordinary citizens started panicking and sending petitions appealing to international bodies including the World Health Organisation to intervene.