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COVID-19

Lesotho records first case of COVID-19 – health ministry

Lesotho records first case of COVID-19 – health ministry

JOHANNESBURG, May 13 (Reuters) - Lesotho recorded its first case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the health ministry said, becoming the last country in southern and East Africa to be afflicted by the virus.

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

The remote, high-altitude kingdom, nestled in a South African mountain range, had previously been spared the coronavirus, although its bigger, more industrialised neighbour has recorded more than 10,000 cases.

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

His exit would clear the way for a solution to a political crisis that erupted late last year, when he and his current wife were accused by police of murdering his former wife nearly three years ago. They both deny the charges.

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

A report by the U.N. humanitarian aid coordination agency two days ago had put COVID-19 case figures for East and southern Africa at almost 18,000, with all countries affected except Lesotho. (Reporting by Sisipho Skweyiya; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Jon Boyle and Pravin Char)

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