Gaborone — Chinese community members in Botswana have been advised to 'self-quarantine' upon return from China as part of efforts to prevent Coronavirus from spreading into the country.
In an interview on Tuesday, Chinese ambassador to Botswana, Dr Zhao Yanbo said the embassy had also advised the Chinese community in Hubei, the hardest hit province, not to travel back until the outbreak had been contained.
He said the decision to restrict travels coincided with a period of a national movement for the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations.
According to WHO, the new, or "novel" coronavirus, now called COVID-19, was reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
The virus is mostly transmitted from animals to people (zoonotic), but the new strain can pass from person to person.
Signs of infection may include respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough and breathing difficulties.
The ambassador said the embassy was collaborating with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, to combat the spread of the virus citing the provision of 11 touch-free thermometers currently used for screening at entry points such as Sir Seretse Khama International Airport.
"Through collaboration, we are well prepared to control and prevent the virus. I appreciate the government's swift response to the five Coronavirus suspects and the efforts to turn the Block 8 Clinic into a quarantine," he said.
Dr Zhao advised against unnecessary travelling adding that those who travelled to China should avoid affected areas.
"Careful assessment should be made before the travels and protective measures must be adhered to. We hope that WHO's professional recommendations will be respected," he said.
Ambassador Zhao pointed out that since the outbreak of the virus, the Chinese government had taken aggressive measures to restrict movement, especially in Wuhan.
He further said comprehensive measures had been taken by universities to safeguard the health of over 5 000 foreign students in Hubei Province, including the 21 Batswana in Wuhan.
Foreign nationals were also covered by China's National Public Health Emergency Responding Mechanism, he said.
He said 41 hotlines had been set up for foreign students in the province to access the latest updates while psychological counselling was also offered.
One of the Botswana students studying in China at Zhongguo Chuanmei Daxue (Communications University of China), Mr Sefako Sefhako said they were taking advantage of the restrictions to catch up on their studies besides watching movies and doing other recreational activities.
He said movement restrictions at university dormitories were from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm while students were allowed to go out of campuses for only two hours.
The student said many international students had received care and help from their universities adding that assistance included the supply of masks and food.
He said they were also taking the necessary precautions to stay safe.
Quoting the China National Health Commission, Ambassador Zhao said there had been 42 638 confirmed cases in the country as of February 11.
Some 3 996 coronavirus patients had been cured and discharged while 1 016 deaths were registered.
Despite the negatives, he said the outbreak had allowed China to speed up the use of artificial intelligence and the harnessing of 5G technology.
Dr Zhao said some hospitals had already deployed robots to help medical staff by offering services to people in quarantine.
The ambassador expressed confidence that China would win the fight against the outbreak given the country's comprehensive and efficient system in place.
He also expressed appreciation for the assistance and support that China had received from heads of state and global institutions across the globe.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>