Botswana Coronavirus Update (26/03/20): 420 Batswana and residents in quarantine

420 Batswana and foreigners resident in Botswana who arrived at Ramokgwebana border on Tuesday have been quarantined across four facilities in the capital, Gaborone.

As at lunch time today (March 26), 228 were quarantined at Francistown Technical College, 130-Masunga Senior Secondary School, 40-Impala Research Centre in Francistown and 22 at Moroka Primary School.

The Chief Immigration officer at Ramokgwebana border, Lindiwe Ngwenya said in an interview with BOPA that they were expecting the numbers to go up because more people were still arriving at the border. Ngwenya said only Batswana, foreigners with resident permits and truck drivers offering essential services would be allowed into the country as per the government’s directive. She indicated that on Tuesday afternoon after receiving the directive to apply a 14-day quarantine for any person arriving in Botswana, they implemented the regulations on the same day, they were confronted with some resistance from some of the new arrivals, who wouldn’t comply with the quarantine measures.

She said the Botswana Police Service and Botswana Defence Force assisted the immigration officers to enforce the new regulations, with the travellers later escorted to designated facilities. Ngwenya said among them were some foreign nationals without resident permits, who intended to cross into Botswana but were denied entry as per the new regulations.

On Tuesday alone, six illegal immigrants were taken to the border gate for screening after trying to cross illegally. They were subsequently repatriated back to Zimbabwe on the same day.

The Officer Commanding Number 15 District, Senior Supt Kabo Badirwang, said stringent measures were taken to ensure that all quarantined persons obeyed instructions. He said police officers had been deployed at the three facilities to guard them. Senior Supt Badirwang said the quarantined people were instructed to drive their vehicles to the quarantine facilities under heavy police escort. This, he said, was done so that their properties could be kept safe under the surveillance of the law enforcement officers. 

Meantime, the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs announced it would be scaling down its services. This is in support of Government’s measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Corona Virus) within the country. The services will be rendered to fewer than usual numbers to avoid congestion in the offices countrywide. The public is therefore advised to avoid visiting Omang offices in large numbers, the release said.

The government had to abandon the initial plan to house the new arrivals at facilities some of the people deemed ‘unhygienic’ and ‘high-risk’. This after some Gaborone hotels stepped up to help the government house them, amid concerns that one of them, Masa Square at the CBD was right in the heavily populated centre. 

Today, more audio files and reports claiming there were confirmed cases were being shared on various social media platforms, all of which the Minister of Health and Wealth, Dr. Lemogang Kwape dismissed as fake. The government continues to urge people to self-isolate and announced late yesterday that the nation ‘should prepare for an imminent lockdown’ and continues observing the necessary precautions. 

“Please prepare yourselves for the imminent lockdown. Our experts, led by Dr Masupu with Prof. Alexandra advise us to restrict the movement of people so we are better able to trace and treat any case that occurs. Take heed of and follow health professionals’ advice and instructions. Wash your hands with soap and water. Do not argue and be difficult because that does not help prevent Covid 19. Protect yourself and everyone else. Look after the old and young. God bless Botswana!” – Botswana President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Source: BOPA

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