Botswana Coronavirus Update (27/03/20)

Holiday hotspot Kasane quarantines over 22 

Twenty-two Batswana and foreign nationals resident in Botswana returning from other countries have been placed under a 14-day quarantine in Kasane. This brings  to 55 the number of people quarantined in Kasane as at this morning (March 27). A total of 33 were accommodated at Chobe Brigade on March 25 while the latest 22 were at Big Five Lodge in Kazungula.

Initially, there were 23 people (22 from Kazungula Border Post and one from Ngoma border post), but one person, a UNDP special envoy, was released to continue with his work on the coronavirus outbreak. Chobe District Commissioner, Sekgabo Makgosa, confirmed in an interview with BOPA that she released the envoy on instruction from the Office of the President and Ministry of Health and Wellness.

Some of those in quarantine had earlier complained that someone was given special treatment. At the time of going to press, it was not yet clear as to who would foot the accommodation bill since negotiations between the government and the authorities in Kasane were still ongoing. The government has applied preventive measures through which all individuals coming into Botswana from high-risk countries will be subjected to a mandatory 14-day quarantine. 

Hotels pledge

Some Gaborone hotels have offered quarantined travellers previously held at various centres around the city accommodation. Terms, including cost splitting, are still under discussion. So far, the government is pleased with how talks are going and has appealed to more establishments to help.

Cross-border trade continues

Cross-border trade continues, despite travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Principal Port Health Officer at Pioneer Border Post, Ivan Nkaiwa has said. Earlier this week, Botswana tightened measures to stop the virus from hitting the country. By yesterday afternoon, the country had still not registered any positive Coronavirus cases.

The government has decided all foreign non-residents will not be allowed in, while only those delivering essential commodities and truck drivers in transit to other countries would be permitted subject to specific quarantine protocols.

Speaking in an interview on Wednesday, Nkaiwa said the government wants to ensure that trade is not negatively affected by the measures put in place. He said the flow of trucks transporting fuel, goods and courier vehicles is being allowed to continue as normal.

“It is the government’s intention to ensure that trade is not disturbed during this period of travel restrictions. Therefore, the movement of trucks across the border post has continued as normal. I should emphasise that any form of business trip has continued to be permitted because all businesses are important,” he said.

Nkaiwa, however, said authorities continue to screen the drivers thoroughly before being allowed into Botswana.

“We check every person, including people in transit and truck drivers. We then give them a self-monitoring tool to continue checking themselves for 14 days for all symptoms of COVID-19. We instruct them to call the emergency number 997 if they suspect that they  have the symptoms,” he said.

He said nobody has so far displayed any of the COVID-19 symptoms since they started checking new arrivals this month. Nkaiwa said the Pioneer Border Post registered a daily average flow of 1 000 people before COVID-19, but since  South Africa announced a lockdown on Thursday, the figure had dropped  to around 300 and that by Wednesday, the numbers continued to dwindle.

Source: BOPA, BWGovernment Facebook page 

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