Saturday, July 4, 2020

COVID-19 truck drivers to be repatriated

The four truck drivers who tested positive for coronavirus at the Kazungula port of entry will be sent back home, the government has said.

The four positive cases were reported last week, bringing to 29 the total number of confirmed cases in Botswana. COVID-19 Task Force Coordinator Dr Kereng Masupu said preparations were already in place to repatriate the drivers back to their countries. “Security around the four cases has been heightened since now we know their status.”

The government has again been cagey on the nationalities of the patients as has been the case with all other local cases where they cited possible stigmatisation of victims.

The COVID-19 Task Force have always turned down enquiries from media regarding all information on confirmed cases and possible contacts.

“Answering the nature of your questions would constitute a breach of doctor patient confidentiality,” COVID-19 Task Force Coordinator Masupu has told Sunday Standard in the past.

While the five truck drivers (including the South African who tested positive in Tlokweng recently) are sent home the number of cases in Botswana shall remain the same.

Masupu has said records of confirmed cases remain where the positive diagnosis was first recorded.

“They cannot be attributed to a person’s place of residence and be omitted from our list because of the risk they posed here,” Masupu explained.

He said it was not just about numbers. “The risk is here. The people who were possibly exposed are here in Botswana. While Botswana has seen a total drop in local transmissions over the past few weeks, truck drivers delivering essentials to Botswana and those in transit across the region continue to pose a bigger risk. The government recently tightened surveillance of truck drivers in order to contain the virus.

Recently all truck drivers arriving into the country have been held at various places of entry waiting for clearance before embarking on their respective routes to deliver essentials.

Director of Health Services Dr Malaki Tshipayagae told Sunday Standard recently that testing of drivers at ports of entry will put the government in a better position to contain the virus and prevent more local transmissions.

The new measures followed the first confirmed case of imported coronavirus involving a truck driver at Tlokweng Border Gate. The incident almost derailed government plans to ease lockdown and allow the nation to return to ‘normal’ business. 

Deputy Coordinator of the COVID-19 Task Team Dr Mosepele Mosepele admitted recently that they had been less than strict on the screening of arriving truck drivers.

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Sunday Standard June 28 – 4 July

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of June 28 - 4 July, 2020.