COVID-19: Businessman pledges up to R30 mln to upgrade Lesotho's lab system
Lesotho has no COVID-19 cases, but it also doesn’t have the testing capability and was depending on the NICD in South Africa.
JOHANNESBURG – Lesotho businessman Sam Matekane will spend between R25 millon and R30 million to upgrade the country’s laboratory system to test for COVID-19.
Matekane has single-handedly appointed a company that will assist the country’s ministry of health to run a minimum of 1,000 tests a day.
Lesotho has no COVID-19 cases, but it also doesn’t have testing capability and is depending on the National Institute for Communicable Disease (NICD) in South Africa.
Matekane initially donated masks and sanitisers. But when it appeared that the ministry of health was continuing to send COVID-19 samples to the NICD – and struggling to set up its own facilities – he went out to find a company that would upgrade the country’s central laboratory.
“Currently, we are estimating 50,000 people at a cost of about between R25 million and R30 million," Matekane said.
He said the funds would also set up logistics to transport samples from the country’s 10 districts as well as an app to send results back to the districts.
The businessman said he took this upon himself because government and politicians were not prioritising the coronavirus fight.
“More than anything, they are being a disgrace to us as a country. We want to make sure that while they are carrying on with their fight, we are saying ‘let the people survive’.”
Matekane said the appointed company would start testing the first group of residents by Friday.
BILLIONAIRE JACK MA DONATES PROTECTIVE GEAR
Last month, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma donated COVID-19 testing kits, masks, and protective suits to Lesotho.
The Alibaba founder donated 1.1 million test kits, 20,000 each to 54 countries in Africa.
Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane, who was previously criticised for inaction, also announced a lockdown from 29 March to 21 April.