Botswana: Lockdown Unwarranted

Gaborone — Government has no intention of instituting a lockdown due to the threat posed by Coronavirus, President Dr Mokgwetsi Masisi has said.

Addressing the media March 19 , Dr Masisi said the current status of the virus in Botswana did not call for a total lockdown.

"We have not declared this as a disaster or even state of emergency. It is a public emergency at the moment since we have no case hence we will continue monitoring the situation," said President Masisi.

Dr Masisi said a lockdown would only be imminent if the country experienced severe COVID-19 cases with high localised transmission rates.

He revealed that government was currently working on a zoning plan to further restrain and monitor domestic travel as a precautionary measure.

Dr Masisi however said it was incumbent upon citizens to suspend non-essential travel even within Botswana.

Government had also decided that schools be closed from today until further notice.

The decision to close schools, the President explained, was not only necessitated by the need to maintain a social distance among pupils, but was also to ready school in case health facilities got overwhelmed.

As a way of enhancing quarantine and isolation capacity, schools remained an option since the country's designated health facilities were not all well capacitated to accommodate infected and vulnerable people should the virus spread become uncontrollable, he said.

President Masisi said government would continue to closely monitor evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak in order to prevent transmission and spread of the virus in Botswana.

Other stringent measures to minimize risk of contracting and possible spreading of COVID-19 would continue to be rolled out in line with the Public Health Act, he said.

Dr Masisi said government also needed to ramp up auxiliary health service to assist core health practitioners when the need arose.

Since one of the key COVID-19 preventative hygiene measures involved frequent hand washing with clean water and detergent, President Masisi said Water Utilities Corporation would be instructed to halt household disconnections.

Giving an update on the situation, President Masisi said 24 suspected cases were identified with 21 testing negative while three were still awaiting results.

He said testing for COVID-19 had commenced at the National Health Laboratory with 17 samples already tested. President Masisi pleaded with the public to continue observing all announced preventive measures and practice high hygiene standards at all times.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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