Friday, July 12, 2024

Ports of entry no longer the biggest covid-19 threat

Botswana’s border gates are no longer the biggest threats for the spread of the COVID-19, the Task Force have said. The battleground has now shifted from the country’s ports of entry to Greater Gaborone and other areas. Eight months since Botswana recorded its first case the national Task Force have conceded defeat in their war to keep the virus beyond borders. The scales of infection have almost completely shifted from imported cases to locally transmitted cases. Of the 367 cases recorded in the three days from October 14 to 16 recently the country’s ports of accounted for only 7 cases, or 2 percent of the total number. This means Botswana has lost the fight against keeping the virus at bay, with authorities now looking to contain the situation locally.

Cross border truck drivers have now become the least of the authorities’ concerns. It is not clear if the current situation is a reflection of the loose ends in the government’s own COVID-19 prevention systems at the ports of entry as reported by this publication earlier this year. At the height of the war between truck drivers and the health authorities there were reports of cases in Zimbabwe with links to Botswana forcing the government to carry out community testing in Mogoditshane village as a blanket approach to possible contact tracing. Community testing in other areas has been mooted in the past but nothing has been done since. Botswana’s COVID-19 daily infection rate stood at 120 cases according to the latest update by the Task Force. The total number of recorded cases in Botswana stood at 5,609 with over 3000 active cases. “It is regrettable that we have of late experienced an exponential rise in local transmissions after the lifting of movement restrictions on 22nd May 2020, mainly, in the Greater Gaborone Zone. Particularly disturbing, is that from July to August 2020, the number of local transmission cases surpassed the number of imported ones,” President Mokgweetsi Masisi told Parliament recently.

And as the situation changes with the surge in numbers of cases so does the COVID-19 terminology. For the first time now the COVID-19 TASK FORCE Coordinators are uttering words like “flattening the curve” as Deputy Coordinator Professor Mosepele Mosepele put it during his most recent national update. Botswana’s Coronavirus vocabulary continues to grow with the numbers. Phrases like self-quarantine (the act of refraining from any contact with other individuals for a period two weeks to observe whether any symptoms of the disease will arise after potential exposure),  Person-to-person transmission (when a virus is spread between people, including physical contact or coughing and sneezing ), or Social distancing (the act of remaining physically apart in an effort to stem transmission of COVID-19) have become clichés as Botswana struggles to reduce the rate of infection.

Botswana has now added new terms to its Covid-19 lexicon as the country graduates to more chilling phases. The Covid-19 Task force is now talking about the epidemic curve (a graph or chart depicting the progression of an outbreak in a particular area or population) as alluded to by Professor Mosepele. Case fatality rate (the ratio of deaths from COVID-19 to the total number of individuals diagnosed with the disease) has now become part of the everyday conversation with Botswana now standing at least 21 deaths from over 5000 recorded cases. Lockdowns (an emergency measure in which individuals are restricted from certain areas in an attempt to control exposure or transmission of disease) have come and gone.  Containment areas (a zone with limited access in an effort to contain an outbreak are a thing of the past as the virus has gone rampant.

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