Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest

Situation Report
Botswana — Trends

Capital city lifts lockdown after COVID-19 scares

  • First case: 30 March

  • Total cases: 125 (as of 25 June 2020)

  • Total deaths: 1

  • Schools: Reopening gradually since 2 June (609,146 learners affected)

  • Flights/Borders:  Closed since 16 March for specific countries, and totally closed since 2 April, except for nationals returning home.

  • Containment measures: State of Emergency declared from 2 April 2020, and extended for the next six months; capital in lockdown since 14 June, restricting movements in and out the city to only essential services providers, who must apply for a permit; for the rest of the country, most restrictions were lift on 21 May, but some measures must be observed, including the use of masks and permits are needed to travel across regions.

Situation:

Botswana confirmed that 125 people in the country had contracted COVID-19 as of 25 June. Although the gradual lifting of restrictions was concluded by the Government on 20 May, the capital Gaborone was in lockdown for the second time since 12 June, following the confirmation of at least eight new cases in the city. Three days later, on 15 June, the COVID-19 lockdown was lifted after 10 out of the 16 people who tested positive for COVID-19 last week now tested negative for the virus, according to the Government. The remaining six are still being re-tested and awaiting results. Previously on 9 May, the capital went on lockdown for two weeks after a truck driver tested positive for COVID-19, with movements in and out of the city restricted to essential services providers. The State of Public Emergency declared on 2 April has, however, been extended by the Parliament for six months. For the rest of the country, all individuals are allowed to move freely and businees have resumed activities, with some specific guidance to be observed over the next weeks. The use of face masks is mandatory in public transport and shared spaces. Companies are required to continue the daily screening and registration of all employees, including measuring temperatures and checking other COVID-19 symptons, shared spaces must be frequently disinfected and workers should use face masks and observe social distancing rules.

Public schools started to reopen in a phased manner from 2 June, according to the Permanent Secretary for Basic Education, quoted by the media. Private schools resumed activities since 15 May, according to the media. The Government informed that hand-washing facilities are being installed at the schools and thermometers will be delivered. Schools are reportedly procuring face masks and parents will supposedly have to buy them at a subsidized price, according to the media.

For the next months, the country has been divided into nine containment zones that will be used to restrict movements by specific areas and allow swift responses in the event of additional COVID-19 outbreaks. Travels across zones require previous authorization.

Response:

  • The Government has established the COVID-19 Relief Fund encourages the private sector, individuals and organizations to contribute.

  • An economic package was approved, and will facilitate loans by commercial banks to businesses mostly affected by COVID-19 and give tax concessions to businesses in eligible sectors.

  • From 20 April, the Government is informed it will start a massive screening campaign across all regions, while implementing measures to ensure that citizens have sufficient potable water and sanitation services.

Official sources:

Botswana Government Official Twitter and Botswana Government website

Presidential address declaring the State of Emergency - 31 March

First containment measures - 16 March 2020

Other links:

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Response to COVID-19, by IMF

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