Botswana Registers First Suspected Case of Coronavirus

Gaborone — Botswana has registered its first suspected case of the deadly coronavirus. A person arriving from China aboard Ethiopian Airways showed symptoms consistent with the virus.

Botswana's Ministry of Health said a man was detained at a local clinic soon after his flight from China landed at Gaborone's Sir Seretse Khama Airport on Thursday.

The ministry said the unnamed male displayed symptoms consistent with the coronavirus but did not say what those symptoms were.

The country's director of health services, Malaki Tshipayagae, said the patient has been isolated at a clinic in the capital as an investigation continues.

Meanwhile, the government has urged Botswana nationals to take precautions in order to avoid contracting the virus.


Mpho Marumo, a Gaborone resident, said there is panic after the first suspected case.

"We are doing all we can to take the necessary precautions," Marumo said. "Our fear is that the virus might have spread already, as many people arrive from China, some undetected."

The suspected case came as some Botswana nationals were holed up in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak.

Botswana has an estimated 500 nationals studying or working in China. A student who spoke on condition of anonymity said it had been a very difficult few days.

"I was supposed to leave to Botswana but my ticket was canceled," the student said. "Following that, we are not allowed to go anywhere."

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency as the death toll from the virus rose above 200 this week.

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