Lesotho has confirmed its first case of coronavirus – becoming the last country in Africa to record the virus.

The mountain kingdom is completely surrounded by South Africa, which has 11,350 cases of Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by coronavirus.

The single case resulted from tests done on 81 travellers from South Africa and Saudi Arabia, the health ministry said in a statement.

For weeks there have been questions about how Lesotho had managed to stave off the disease in spite of the frequent movement of people between the two neighbours.

Hundreds of thousands of Basotho work in South Africa.

The border closed when both countries went into lockdown at the end of March – with only essential workers allowed to move back and forth.

A few weeks ago, Lesotho’s Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro, in an interview with South Africa’s EyeWitness News, pleaded with those wanting to be repatriated to remain in South Africa – fearing that some might come back with the virus.

This would place an enormous burden on the country’s already fragile health system, he said.

Lesotho does not have the necessary resources to test for Covid-19, so samples are being sent to South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

Some have said the this may lead to a delay not only in detecting cases and containing the spread of the virus but also in administering treatment.

“To date, we have sent 597 specimens for testing at NICD, 295 are negative and 301 are still pending,” Lesotho’s health ministry said.

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