Thursday, September 28, 2023

Unmasking the nation after winter

The government is expected to work towards re-evaluating its guidance on mandatory mask wearing after the winter season – a senior official has revealed.

This is contained in a report by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Grace Muzila that was filed with the ongoing session of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

“While some Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted such as the requirement for a negative Covid-19 PCR test certificate on entry at points of entry (POE) for fully vaccinated travelers, the majority of public health and social measures including mandatory mask wearing still remain in place until a review of the accompanying legislation is conducted post the Winter period,” states Muzila in her report.

According to the report, the country has since returned to a control phase of the Covid-19 outbreak, with less than 10 cases per 100 000 people and a weekly positive rate of less than 5% for the past two months. As of 30th April 2022, a total of 306, 223 Covid-19 cases and 2,690 deaths were reported by her Ministry.

The report says that the Ministry together with several of its stakeholders and partners have also engaged in door to door campaigns as well as mass media campaigns to accelerate information sharing and education on vaccine importance.

Muzila also revealed that: “We have further engaged with partners to research studies aimed at assessing factors related to vaccine hesitancy in affected groups of the population to better understand the prohibitive issues, and ways to mitigate them.”

She stated that: “All these are efforts geared towards the achievement of at least 70% coverage of the entire population by July 2022 as stipulated by the World Health Organisation (WHO)…”

 Muzila said this was part of President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s rest priority which is to “Save Botswana’s population from Covid-19, through the implementation of life saving programs that include a successful and timely vaccination.”

According to the report most of the reported Covid-19 cases were from the Greater Gaborone Health District which was depicted as the transmission hotspot for all four waves that have been detected in the country so far.

Muzila said as of 30th April 2022, 1 691 387 people over the age of 12 years had received at least one dose of any Covid-19 vaccine offered in the country (69@ of estimated total population), with 1 501 556 of this number fully vaccinated (61% of the estimated total population).

“Only 351 294 people have received their booster dose (37% of the eligible population). Although vaccine uptake and coverage has slowed down over the past few months, different modalities of ramping up vaccine program have been instituted such as increasing access to vaccines through outreach services, partnering with different event organizers to promote vaccination during such events and gatherings,” she said.


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