Southern Africa: New Coronavirus Strain in Botswana

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Gaborone — A highly infectious new strain of coronavirus 501V2 has been detected in Botswana.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Edwin Dikoloti says in view of the new strain, coupled with the evidence of the soaring numbers of COVID-19 cases, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi had approved the extension of the travel restrictions imposed under the emergency powers regulation from January 4 to January 31.

The previous movement restriction started on December 24, 2020 to January 3, 2021.

Updating the nation on the COVID-19 pandemic situation over Btv on January 3, Dr Dikoloti also said effective today (January 4) the curfew would apply between 8pm-4am. The initial curfew was from 7pm to 4am.

Therefore, Dr Dikoloti said essential service workers would be required to carry permits to travel during periods when movement would be restricted.

He said the extension was in accordance with regulation 5(i) and 4 of the emergency powers COVID-19 regulations of 2020.

During the extended period of curfew, Dr Dikoloti said the sale of alcohol was suspended with immediate effect while consumption of liquor in public places was also suspended.

He urged the nation to take into consideration all the health precautionary measures, as the new strain of the coronavirus recently discovered in South Africa spreads fast.

"It has become evident that the number of COVID-19 cases in Botswana continues to rise, and in addition, the new strain of the virus, which was first reported in South Africa, has now been detected in Botswana.

The 501V2 variant was detected by South Africa authorities mid-December and is easily transmissible. While there has been compliance by the general public with COVID-19 protocols, there has been evidence of disregard of the protocols mainly by some revellers during the festive season.

The Public is therefore urged to continue to abide by the COVID-19 protocols," said Dr Dikoloti.

As of December 28, 2020, there had been 13 019 positive cases, out of which 913 were still active, while 12 136 had recovere. So far 42 deaths have been registered in Botswana.

Source : BOPA

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