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Botswana Bans Entry from Corona-hit Countries

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  • Public Health expert worries that Gov’t may have acted impulsively
  • Ex-Health Ministry PS, WHO advisor says Botswana should have waited
  • Gov’t in the process of drafting corona virus legal framework

TLOTLO KEBINAKGABO

Travelers from the Coronavirus hit countries, will no longer enter Botswana indefinitely, the Government announced yesterday (Monday).
The move is considered a strict measure geared at containing the corona virus pandemic which continues to spread globally, piling increased pressure on Botswana.
The government merely reacted from pressure from the citizenry to follow the path taken by other countries. The path has political and socio-economic implications which the nation is still trying to navigate.

Amongst the measures, government banned entry of all travelers from high risk countries including China, Japan, South Korea, Iran, USA, UK Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and India.

While Batswana and residents returning from high risk countries will be allowed entry, they will however undergo a 14 day mandatory quarantine.
This according to the public notice released by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, signed by Minister Lemogang Kwape is in line with the Public Health Act of 2013.
Public gatherings of more than 100 people will be prohibited for the next 30 days. This will happen at wedding celebrations, night clubs (including bars) and religious activities to mention but a few. Not only have public gatherings been banned, the government has also advised the public to maintain a distance of one to two meters between each other at places like Banks, Shops and Restaurants.

To that end, the government advised that funerals should be brief and are to last no more than two hours. Food shall not be provided to the public and mourners at the funerals.
A highly experienced Health Care and Health Systems expert, with backgrounds and experience in Disease Control, Health Services Management and International Health, Dr Edward Maganu said that the government obviously acted under immense pressure.

“There was pressure. On when we should have acted and to what extent is a matter of opinion depending on where one comes from. If you ask me I would say we should have waited a bit to take such drastic measures because we do not have any reported transmission cases,” said Dr. Maganu who is also a former permanent secretary in the ministry of health.

According to Dr. Maganu, the decision comes with a lot of socio-economic challenges which should as well been taken into consideration. “I am not criticizing the government ‘s decision but I think we should have tightened the borders and observed the situation a bit before taking such drastic measures. The other question is what happens after the 30 days period elapse,” he said.
Maganu has worked for the Ministry of Health in Botswana for 21 years and for WHO for more than 12 years. He is acknowledged as a pioneer of the Professional Health Council approach in Botswana as well as the introduction of DOTS in TB control. Since retirement, he has undertaken consultancies in aspects of health systems.

Maganu is also a recipient of Botswana Presidential Order of Honour (1995) and citation by WHO Regional Director for Africa- in recognition of outstanding service (2009).
With that, the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Kagiso Mmusi told this publication in a telephone interview yesterday that the government is in the process of developing a legal framework on the issue of those who violate the corona virus measures.

Meanwhile, the Botswana Unified Revenues Services (BURS) have confirmed that it has closed point of entries with South Africa as of yesterday (Monday). Borders to be closed include that of Zanzibar, Platjan, Pontdrift, Bray, Makopong and Mc Carthy’s Rust. Middlepits, Sikwane, Ramotswa, Phitshane Molopo, Parrs Halt and Twee-rivireen.

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