Friday, December 3, 2021

BURS in serious breach of Covid-19 protocols- employees

The Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) management at the Head Office in Gaborone have been accused of seriously undermining efforts by the government to curb the spread of Coronavirus.

Staff at the organisation have raised alarm about continued breach of Covid-19 protocols by management that has placed them in grave danger.

BURS management at the CBD head office have been routinely ordering Covid-19 positive employees to not disclose their status to their colleagues while in isolation to avoid raising alarm and possibly forcing them to also go on isolation, Sunday Standard has been informed.

The positive individuals have also been given orders not to disclose identities of colleagues they have been in contact with to the District Health Management Team (DHMT) and other health authorities for fear they might be forced to go into isolation resulting in staff shortage at organisation.

Temporary staff have not been spared the abuse, employees told Sunday Standard. “They have been told that should they isolate as a result of being contacts, they won’t be remunerated for the 10 days in isolation,” said the employees who spoke anonymously for fear of victimisation.

The temporary staff have allegedly also been threatened with possible termination of contracts should they continue to isolate. 

The head office reportedly registered over 72 cases of Covid-19 over the month of May alone, Sunday Standard has been told. So serious is the situation at BURS that staff have approached their safety, health and environment (SHE) officers to raise their concerns.

Attempts to engage management on the matter were unsuccessful as the communications department did not respond to our enquiries.

The Covid-19 Task Force advices the public to continue abiding by the regulations and protocols as Botswana continues to register cases and fatalities.

The total number of positive cases in Botswana stood at 59,480 according to the most recent update by the Task Force. At least 270 cases were recorded in the four days between June 5 and 10, 2021. 

The total number of deaths stood at 896 while active numbers stood at 2,967. At least 55, 617 people had recovered from the virus. Botswana continues to receive vaccines for the virus and vaccination resumed recently following a two month wait.

Meanwhile President Mokgweetsi Masisi took his first jab this past Friday in Gaborone. Masisi received the Pfizer vaccine shot at the Maruapula vaccination centre.

The President earlier this year declared he would follow the age based criteria used by the government saying he would be ready when his turn has comes. He encouraged the public to take their shot when the time comes.

At least 47 of Africa’s 54 countries (nearly 90%) are set to miss the September target of vaccinating 10% of their people unless Africa receives 225 million more doses, the World Health Organization has said.

“As Africa nears 5 million COVID-19 cases, numbers are rising week-on-week and increased by nearly 20% to over 88 000 in the week ending on 6 June. The pandemic is trending upwards in 10 African countries, with four nations recording a spike in new cases of over 30% in the past seven days, compared with the previous week. 72% of all new cases were reported in Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia and over half were recorded in nine southern African countries.

To combat mis-and-disinformation around vaccines, WHO and partners set up the Africa Infodemic Response Alliance (AIRA), which leverages the reach and insights from a unique network of 14 organizations and pools resources to combat misinformation. Viral Facts Africa, the public face of the alliance, has created over 150 videos and social media posts to counter misinformation this year and they have been disseminated on almost 60 social media channels across the region and gained more than 100 million views.

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