Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Botswana — Trends

Greater Gaborone under lockdown

  • First case: 30 March

  • Total cases: 804 (as of 1 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 2

  • 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; most restrictions were lifted on 21 May, but some measures must be observed, including the use of masks, and permits are needed to travel across regions. On 14 July, the Government lifted the ban on holding public meetings, workshops and conferences with no more than 75 persons are in attendance. A lockdown has been declared for Greater Gaborone from 30 July to 13 August.

Situation:

Botswana confirmed that 804 people in the country had contracted COVID-19 and two have died, as of 1 August. Although the gradual lifting of restrictions was concluded by the Government on 20 May, the State of Public Emergency declared on 2 April has, however, been extended by the Parliament for six months. The use of face masks is mandatory in public transport and shared spaces.

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.

On 14 July, the Government lifted the ban on holding of public meetings, workshops and conferences with no more than 75 persons in attendance and that they do not travel across COVID-19 zones for the purpose of the meeting, according to media reports. For purposes of contact tracing, registers containing the personal and contact details of all persons accessing the premises must be maintained and open for inspection by health officials or law enforcement officers.

Public schools started to re-open 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.

A lockdown for Greater Gaborone Zone has been declared from 30 July to 13 August, after a spike in the number of cases, after the Presidential COVID-19 Task Force confirmed a surge of local COVID-19 positive cases, which affected a number of education institutions in the Greater Gaborone Area.

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 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

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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