Thursday, July 9, 2020

Botswana clueless about the Zimbabwean contacts

Batswana remain at a high risk of possible COVID-19 infection as the government remains clueless about the contacts of the two Zimbabwean nationals who tested positive following their return from Botswana.

This follows news from Zimbabwe this week that the two women had just arrived in the country from Botswana.  One had initially been in South Africa, reports said.

The news seem to have caught Botswana health officials completely off-guard.  The Coordinator of the Botswana COVID-19 Task Force told the nation this week that they were still in consultation with their Zimbabwean counterparts in the hope of gathering enough evidence to commence contact tracing of possible victims.

“We currently don’t have enough information to carry out contact tracing of their possible contacts.” He said they were yet to establish where the two Zimbabwean patients had been before returning back home.

The Task Team Coordinator was however quick to point out there were possibilities that the two Zimbabwean patients may have contracted the virus in their home country, eliminating any possible threats of having spread the virus in Botswana.

The Botswana government has been repatriating Zimbabweans and other nationals during the COVID-19 period but according to information they were not tested prior to repatriation.

This means there could be more cases of exported cases that Botswana authorities may not be aware of, placing the public at a higher risk of possible infection from their contacts.

In order to synchronise their response to coronavirus in the region SADC Leaders recently held a virtual meeting chaired by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. President Mokgweetsi Masisi was part of the meeting.

The SADC nations have been collaborating, sharing notes on best practices to curb the spread of the virus in the region.

Botswana has particularly benefited from South Africa’s testing services during the initial stages of the virus in the region. The country continues to receive medical supplies and other essentials from its neighbour.

Local COVID-19 Task Force Coordinator Masupu has said they would also continue to share notes with their regional counterparts.

Following the announcement of four new cases this week Botswana stands at 29 confirmed cases including 19 recoveries and one death.

The government has eased restriction of movement and opened up businesses for the first time in seven weeks. Travel permits will only be required between the nine newly established COVID-19 Zones.

Masupu has however warned the situation remains subject to compliance of emergency regulations and the absence of local transmissions.

By the first day of free movement the Coordinator had already noted few incidences of non-compliance by the public in certain areas.

Botswana has been under complete lockdown since beginning of April 2020 following the discovery of the first three cases.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a global pandemic. Since then, we have seen the devastating effects of this pandemic worldwide. Last night Botswana confirmed with regret three cases of the COVID-19 virus,” President Masisi told the nation as he announced the lockdown. Following the announcement measures were put in place to mitigate the social and economic challenges brought about by the lockdown.

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Sunday Standard July 5 – 11

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of July 5 - 11, 2020.