In addition to tackling COVID-19, a slip that has driven the entire leadership of Botswana into mandatory quarantine has placed the Minister of Health and the Director of Public Health at the centre of unenviable attention, TEFO PHEAGE reports.
The Minister of Health and the Director of Public Health are reportedly in trouble with the President after a lapse led to the entire elected leadership of the country being exposed to infection with COVID-19, The Botswana Gazette has established.
According to impeccable sources, President Mokgweetsi Masisi has made his disappointment known to the two men, Dr Lemogang Kwape and Dr Malaki Tshipiyagae. The exposure was in the form of a close encounter with a nurse from Block 8 Clinic – which classified as a red zone – was assigned to duty at the National Assembly when President Masisi and MPs met in an extraordinary session in response to an anticipated onslaught of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The session was thrown into pandemonium the next morning when news broke that the nurse had tested positive for the dreaded disease for which there is no cure. As a result, it was only a matter of time before all the MPs present, including President Masisi, were ordered into mandatory quarantine by the Director of Public Health, Dr Tshipiyagae, the very man whom, together with Minister Kwape, is being regarded with trepidation because of the dangerous lapse.
This must have been a particularly hard turn of events for the President because he had only days before emerged from quarantine after receiving a clean bill of health following a controversial visit to Namibia for the inauguration of Hage Gottfried Geingob as president.
While government is trying hard to downplay the issue of reckless exposure of the country’s leaders to a deadly virus, The Gazette has established that people at the health ministry are being called to account for the lapse.
“The President is obviously unhappy and has expressed his disappointment to the health ministry leadership,” said a source who cannot be named. “This is because the country’s leaders cannot be on the ground to direct operations at this critical time.”
The source added that President Masisi had labelled the incident “embarrassing.”
Reached for comment, Dr Kwape said the President was the only appropriate authority to respond under the circumstances. “The question can be raised during one of the many press conferences that he usually addresses,” he asserted, adding that he (Dr Kwape) would not publicise it even if it was the case that he was reprimanded.
The Opposition has been coming down hard on the government in the aftermath of the incident, excoriating the ruling party for what it has characterised as “toying with their lives”. When the issue broke in Parliament, Dr Tshipiyagage, was at pains to explain what is essentially an inexplicable -and dangerous – slip in the system. “It was just regular testing for exposed people (when a) nurse who was in Parliament tested positive,” her said.
Other people with whom the nurse had been in contact were to be traced and the relevant COVID-19 protocols followed. On Sunday, Minister Kwape expressed the hope that patients kept in isolation at Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital were doing well and that they would continue to be under the watchful eye of caregivers. Meanwhile, President Masisi and all MPs who were present when the nurse was on duty during their special meeting have been advised to remain in quarantine until their results are out.