Saturday, October 31, 2020

Truckers decry delays in COVID-19 test results

The situation at Gaborone’s COVID-19 holding area for truck drivers looks set to boil over due to delayed test results.

Regional truck drivers are up in arms over the government’s failure to issue test results on time, leading to a weeklong stay at the isolation camp. Some drivers, in transit to various SADC countries say they have been staying at the camp for a week with no proper explanation from the authorities on what exactly is causing the delay.

“I have been here for seven days now,” a South African truck driver in transit to Zambia told The Telegraph on Monday, September 14, 2020.

The long waiting period for results (which can take up to a whole week), has proved to be financially taxing for truck drivers.

“They are not even providing us with for the week that we spend here. We have to fend for ourselves despite not being allowed to leave this place. Those who brought their own stoves and enough food supplies are better off.”

The drivers say they are only provided with shared mobile toilets and showers which they also say puts them at risk of contracting the virus.

“Some of us are going to catch the virus here while awaiting results,” they said.

A Ministry of Health representative at the isolation centre told The Telegraph that the drivers’ complaints are not unfounded, confirming that it takes time to receive test results from the lab.

The drivers, under heavy escort by the Botswana Police and Botswana Defence Force officers, have threatened to take matters into their own hands. For some transit drivers, a negative diagnoses certificate goes a long way in ensuring a smooth path to other regional countries.

“Those going to Malawi need the results because without the proof of test from Botswana they would be placed under quarantine once they arrive in Zambia,” they explained.

Truck drivers constitute a significant number of Botswana’s 1153+ confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Foreign positive cases are sent directly back home while locals are placed under institutional quarantine. South Africa still has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the region. By the time of going to press the total stood at 649, 793 confirmed cases with 15,447 deaths. Zimbabwe stood at 7, 526 confirmed cases and 224 deaths.

Zambia 13,539 cases and 309 deaths while Namibia, who have since opened their borders to visitors had 9,719 cases and 101 deaths. There were at least 29 million confirmed cases worldwide with almost a million deaths.

On Monday the World Health Organization said they had received reports of 307,930 new Covid-19 cases worldwide in the previous 24 hours, the highest single-day increase in global infections since the pandemic began. The previous daily high was set on September 6, when 306,857 cases were reported.

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