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Lesotho is now effectively sealed off from South Africa, after it closes Maseru airport

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Lesotho has closed its Moshoeshoe I International Airport until at least 27 January, in a coronavirus lockdown measure. On the South African side, land borders are closed to all but freight and people with special dispensation – which is hard to get. For many regular and casual travellers both, that has effectively sealed of the mountain kingdom.

Lesotho is now effectively sealed off from South Africa, and so from the rest of the world, as it battles a huge surge in coronavirus infections.

The kingdom this week shut down Maseru's Moshoeshoe I International Airport to all traffic until at last 27 January, via a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM). The airport will accept no international, regional, or domestic flights, Lesotho said.

Lesotho has a number of smaller airports, but none of the others have scheduled flights.

South Africa closed all its land border crossings to general travellers this week, and that closure is expected to last well into February. The only people South Africa will allow through its posts on the Lesotho border are those transporting goods or fuel, those with life-threatening conditions requiring emergency treatment, daily commuters who attend school in South Africa, and residents of either country returning home.

The SA department of home affairs has put in place a system to apply for special dispensation to use land border posts, but previous attempts at such schemes have been difficult to access, at best.

Testing and reporting in Lesotho is patchy, but the country has formally recorded a huge surge in coronavirus infections. During South Africa's first wave, it never detected more than 100 new infections per day. On 6 January it reported 931 new cases, and on Wednesday it reported more than 300 new infections.

South African authorities have found more than 100 people with the virus trying to cross into SA per day.

Health workers have said the country is unable to cope with its current Covid-19 load.