May 25: govt prioritize data amid stay away campaign
The Botswana government is emphasizing data collection at public and private business places as a key plank in the fight against the pandemic.
An advisory posted on Twitter over the weekend reminded outfits of their data collection responsibilities. Titled “Advisory on registration details required across all business sector entry points,” it said all organizations must: “… ensure and safeguard personal visitors / customers information in COVID-19 registers for purpose of contact tracing.”
The require entries are: Full name, contact details, date of their visit, temperature readings. Only an authorized official is supposed to make entries and anyone found in unlawful possession of the register risks a fine (5,000 Pula), a jail term (12 months) – or both.
The government is also ramping up its campaign asking citizens to stay home as much as possible. It advised people who could to stay, work and create from home, another advisory read: It it is not essential, avoid it.
Total confirmed cases = 35 (new cases = 5)
Total recoveries = 19
Total deaths = 1
Active cases = 15
Figures valid as of close of day May 24, 2020
May 20: Extreme social distancing ends, country zoned
Government announced an end to extreme social distancing on Wednesday signaling the end of Three Phases of lockdown. A zoning strategy has been announced to help curb virus spread. The current case count is 29.
“A part of the containment strategy, the country has been divided into Zomes to restrict movement of people; allow swift responses in the event of an aggressive outbreak,” a statement posted on social media.
There are nine COVID-19 zones as follows: Boteti, Chobe, Ghanzi, Greater Francistown, Greater Gaborone, Greater Palapye, Greater Phikwe, Maun and Kgalagadi zones. Thirteen check points have also been designated across the country.
Issuing clarity on the issue of alcohol sale, the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry issues a statement that said it remained banned till further notice.
The statement said relevant laws are “subject to the ongoing State of Emergency, therefore, the Emergency Powers Regulations regulating the prohibition of the sale of alcohol still apply. Hence, there shall be no sale of alcohol in all liquor outlets until further notice.”
May 19: president in Harare for SADC meeting
President Eric Masisi left Gaborone on Tuesday for Harare where he is attending a meeting of the Southern African Development Community, SADC.
His spokesperson confirmed that extraordinary circumstances had forced him to travel as the incoming chairperson of SADC’s political, defense and security cooperation arm.
“IT, security and defense experts have advised the president that meeting should be face to face in light of sensitivity of issues discussed,” Bathelefi Leagang said.
The president and his entourage return later today and shall be subjected to 14-day quarantine. It will be his third consecutive quarantine.
The first after he attended investiture in Namibia in March and later in April after a healthworker in parliament tested positive on a day he was in attendance.
PRESIDENT MASISI ATTENDS SUMMIT— Botswana Government (@BWGovernment) May 19, 2020
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi will today attend the Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence, and Security Cooperation (Organ) Troika in Harare, Zimbabwe in his capacity as the incoming Chair. pic.twitter.com/9csRGbWMfX
May 13: More recoveries, ex-prez leads local donors
Botswana currently has twenty-four confirmed cases of which there are six active cases with seventeen recoveries (five news) and one death.
Support for government’s efforts to combat the virus has also seen a surge in financial donations into the COVID-19 fund. Ex-President Festus Mogae and his wife were among the latest donors.
Former President Mogae and Barbra Mogae, this morning donated P100 000 to the covid-19 relief fund. The Vice President received donations worth over P964 000, from different organizations and individuals to help government combat Covid-19, government confirmed on May 12.
“The money donated will be used to buy medical equipment that will be used to fight Covid-19,” the veep added. Other contributors included:
- Ghana Community in Botswana = P100 000
- Botswana Tribal Association = P10 000
- Botswana Democratic Party Women’s Wing = P153 000
- Mazars Audit firm = P201 000
- Former MPs Association = P30 000
- Awil College = P20 000 and television content worth P1.6 million,
- Kerala Semajam Botswana = P250 000
- Old Apostolic Church who donated Personal Protective Equipment worth = P100 220
May 11: capital Gaborone declared high-risk area, ‘quarantined’
Government on Monday declared the capital Gaborone a “high-risk area” and advised residents to limit their movements from henceforth. It also suspended the pink permits which allowed for movement into and outside of the capital.
A statement issued by Dr. Kereng Masupu, coordinator of the presidential task force on COVID-19 read: “Following the confirmed COVID-19 case of a truck driver who came into Gaborone through the Tiokweng border on Sunday 09 May 2020…
“… the COVID-19 Presidential Task Force would like to advise the public that only those who have been issued Pink Permits for travel into and out of Gaborone are suspended with immediate effect until further notice.
“This therefore declares Gaborone a high-risk area and members of the public are strongly advised to limit their movements.”
The statement further disclosed that efforts were underway with respect to contact tracing along the route that the infected driver travelled. The patient is on admission at the Sir Ketumile Masire Hospital.
“Those holding Essential Service permit will be allowed to travel into and outside of Gaborone except for those holding the pink Permit,” the statement further clarified.
May 10: Regulations on resumption of road transport
Road transport is returning across the country in the wake of eased lockdown measures. President Masisi in exercising his emergency powers authorized the lifting of transport restrictions from May 8 to 21st.
A gazette of the new regulations issued by government indicated that road transport was the sole beneficiary of the order as rail and air transport remained banned.
Road transport services – not limited to taxis, call cubs and staff buses – shall operate from 8th to 21st May, 2020 within a 60 kilometre radius of the place of operation.
Some conditions that accompany especially the public means of transport include: abiding with Covid-19 protocols, public transport associations to certify readiness of vehicles to operate as per the Covid-19 protocols and the cleaning of vehicles 2 – 3 times daily.
Drivers are to also enforce adherence of passengers to using face masks. Loading capacity of different vehicles have also been reduced. Mini buses shall carry 70 percent of seating capacity with social distancing, hence a 16-seater bus will carry a maximum of 10 passengers.
As of May 10, there are currently 23 cases with 12 recoveries, 10 active cases and one death. There has not been an increase in confirmed cases for weeks now.
May 8: Steve Harvey’s donation arrives, relaxed lockdown starts
Botswana is one of few African countries that have not recorded increase in cases for over a week. A phased return to work measure starts today with a series of strict guidelines among which are:
- Maintaining a register of employees, visitors, customers etc. that interact with a facility
- Observance of social distancing of 1 – 2 metres apart
- Provision of sanitizers and means of washing hands at premises
- Wearing of face masks (home-made)
- Deny entry to persons who fail to abide by guidelines
President Eric Masisi was personally at the airport in Gaborone to receive a donation from American TV star Steve Harvey. The 7.2 metric tonnes of medical equipment arrived on Wednesday. It comprised of personal protective equipment which will be used by frontline staff dealing with the pandemic.
The president said the consignment had been “donated by our friends, Steve Harvey “Mothusi” and his lovely wife Marjorie Lesedi Harvey.” The couple are good friends of the country having paid a recent visit to the southern African country.
with COVID-19.— Dr. Mokgweetsi E.K Masisi (OfficialMasisi) May 7, 2020
I would also like to convey our gratitude to the
UAEmGov(United Arab Emirates(UAE) government for responding graciously to the plea made by these friends of Botswana, Steve & Marjorie. pic.twitter.com/Cwhbb1mZ5N
May 6: Phased lifting of lockdown starting May 8
Botswana will start a phased lifting of its lockdown staring May 8, vice president Slumber Tsogwane affirmed on Wednesday. President Masisi, himself a lawmaker, was present at the sitting.
Lawmakers returned to the chamber to discuss issues relating to emergency powers that allowed the president to impose measures aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19.
Presenting the motion before Parliament, the leader of the House and Vice President, Mr Slumber Tsogwane, said the purpose of the Regulations is to regulate the period during which the state of public emergency exists.
“Based on our response to date and the current trajectory of the disease, we have decided to open our economy albeit incrementally, while observing the disease patterns,” he said.
There was strict virus prevention measures in and around the parliament. All present were masked whiles sanitizers were administered to all entrants into the building.
May 1: Face masks compulsory in public, shared spaces
The Government of Botswana has issued legislation that makes it compulsory to wear masks/face coverings in public places, businesses and common areas of residential buildings from 1 May 2020.
Specifications have been issued in an official media release stating that medical and non-medical masks needed to be worn by members of the public. Whiles the medical versions are to be used by persons working in high risk areas, others have to wear the non-medical type.
“Cloth face mask or home-made item that covers the nose and mouth or another appropriate item that covers the nose and mouth when in a public place,” the release said of the non-medical masks.
The government urged the public to stick to non-medical masks in order to free scarce medical masks for health workers. Vendors are to sell medical masks to only persons in the medical profession, health workers, persons handling clinical waste or involved in COVID-19 related activities.
The government cautioned that the use of the masks whiles helping to decrease the probability of contracting the virus also need be observed along with “specified personal hygiene practicing and social distancing.”
Botswana case file as of today: 23 confirmed cases, five recoveries and one death.
2. Non-Medical – cloth face mask or home-made item that covers the nose and mouth or another appropriate item that covers the nose and mouth when in a public place.— Botswana Government (@BWGovernment) May 1, 2020
April 23: All MPs released from quarantine after tests
Botswana’s president and vice president have been released from home quarantine after testing negative for COVID-19.
The presidency in a statement today said: “Director of Health Services has released His Excellency, Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, President of the Republic … and …Vice President Slumber Tsogwane from home quarantine today, 23rd April 2020.
“This follows the release of their COVID 19 test results which came out negative yesterday,” the statement by presidential spokesperson Batlhalefi Leagajang said.
“All members of parliament have tested negative for COVID-19 and they are being released from quarantine,” Kereng Masupu, coordinator of the COVID-19 Presidential Task Force, told a news briefing.
On April 9, all members of the legislature were admitted to home quarantine after a nurse on duty at the parliament tested positive for the virus. The president and vice are also MPs and were present at the said date.
A day after the order, some unnamed MPs were arrested and put in institutional quarantine for breaching self quarantine rules. They were pictured in shopping malls at a time they were meant to be in quarantine.
Botswana, currently under a state of emergency and lockdown has 22 confirmed cases to date (April 23), one death has been recorded with zero recoveries. The overall test tally stands at 5,023 people. Two senior health officials were fired by the president on Wednesday for undisclosed reasons.
April 14: Cabinet donates 10% of salaries towards COVID-19 relief fund
Cabinet members in Botswana have agreed to donate 10% of their salaries towards the country’s COVID-19 relief fund, government announced on Tuesday.
According to Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, members have pledged 10% of their salaries to the relief fund for a period of six months. The deductions will total P167,407.20 every month. The amount comes up to about $14,000 per month and $84,000 over the six-month period.
Speaking on state broadcaster, BTV, Tuesday evening VP Tsogwane said, the President , himself as Vice President, Ministers and Assistant Ministers have all written letters and authorized deduction of 10% of their salaries to help the nation in the fight against COVID-19.
He also thanked Batswana and the private sector for their continued contribution to the fund and urged others to bring their pledges, monetary or otherwise. The country is under a lockdown occasioned by a state of emergency imposed to curb spread of the virus.
PRESIDENTIAL COVID-19 TASK FORCE— Botswana Government (@BWGovernment) April 13, 2020
PUBLIC ADVISORY NO 8
APPLICATIONS FOR ESSENTIAL SERVICES PERMITS pic.twitter.com/8Hf7Z90c4N
April 10: stubborn MPs moved into govt supervised quarantine
Barely 24 hours after government announced that all lawmakers were supposed to observe a period of quarantine for COVID-19, the Director of Health Services at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, says a number of MPs are to be put under government supervised quarantine.
Dr Malaki Tshipayagae said the MPs in question had breached home quarantine after a number of them were seen shopping in supermarkets. He did not specify how many of the 65 members were affected by the new measures. The MPs are said to have been exposed to a health worker who was in attendance during a recent session.
A government statement read in part: “It has since come to my attention that some Members of Parliament have breached their quarantine rules by going to supermarkets thus spreading the risk.
“This is regrettable and the public is informed that the MPs have been removed from home quarantine and will be quarantined under government supervised quarantine.
“His Excellency the President, Members of Parliament, Senior Government Officials and members of the media who attended are urged to follow home quarantine rules and not risk the spread of the disease to members of their families and the public at large.”
The country is under lockdown after the President declared a state of emergency to curb spread of the virus. As of April 10, Botswana had recorded 13 cases with one death.Major African stats as of April 10:
- Confirmed cases = 12,369
- Number of deaths = 632
- Recoveries = 1,632
- Infected countries = 52
- Virus-free countries = 2 (Lesotho, Comoros)
Figures sourced from John Hopkins University tracking site
April 9: Tally rises to 13, all MPs placed under quarantine
All sixty-nine lawmakers in Botswana have been placed under compulsory quarantine by the Director of Health Services Dr Malaki Tshipayagae. The parliament referred to as the National Assembly comprises 65 members of Parliament including the president and speaker.
The move follows a report given to the Minister of Health on Thursday confirming that seven new cases had been recorded in the southern African country bringing the national tally to thirteen.
“Amongst the cases is a healthworker who was on duty at yesterday’s Parliament session. Health professionals are currently advising Parliament on how they are to proceed considering that some of the members interacted with the health worker,” a government statement added.
President Masisi was in early April released from self quarantine after he travelled to Namibia for the swearing in of his counterpart Hage Geingob. At the time Namibia had recorded cases and Botswana had yet to record a case. The president’s test result returned negative allowing him to resume duties at his office.
The country is currently under a state of emergency with a raft of measures being enforced to curb the spread and increase containment efforts of the virus. Of the now thirteen cases on record, one death has been recorded.
President Masisi at an extraordinary meeting of parliament today stressed the importance of the emergency laws in a time as this. He assured MPs that no aspect of the laws would be abused.
“I, Mokgweetsi Masisi did not seek the Presidency of this country for reasons of ruling by decree; I did not campaign for election as President of this celebrated democracy for me to erode civil liberties upon coming into office;
“It is in this spirit that I pledge, and So Help Me God, that I intend using the declaration of the State of Emergency, solely for the purpose of protecting our people against the decimating potentials of the Novel COVID-19 virus,” he told lawmakers.
April 1: Botswana president tests negative
Botswana president Eric Masisi has tested negative for COVID-19 and has subsequently been released from home quarantine, “with immediate effect,” to resume duties at his office.
“This follows the release of his Covid-19 test results yesterday which came out negative,” a statement from the office of the president said. The April 1 statement was signed by his pres secretary Batlhaleft Leagajang.
The president entered self-isolation on March 22 after returning from Namibia where he attended the swearing-in ceremony of President Hage Geingob. At the time Namibia had three confirmed cases whiles Botswana had none.
The country has now registered four coronavirus cases, the index cases on March 30 whiles the first death was also recorded a day later. President Masisi in an address imposed 28-day strict lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.
March 22: President in coronavirus self-isolation after Namibia trip
Botswana president Eric Mokgweetsi Masisi is in self-isolation for a fourteen day period, the government through the office of president confirmed late Sunday.
The decision to self-isolate comes after he returned home from an official trip to neighbouring Namibia. He attended the swearing in ceremony of President Hage Geingob in Windhoek.
“The rationale for the imposition of self-isolation is that while Namibia has registered three (3) imported cases, and is considered low risk for SARS-Cv-2 transmission at the the time of His Excellency the President’s trip to Namibia, the low testing rates in the Region makes that determination difficult and there is a high possibility of undetermined local transmission,” the statement read.
The statement added that during the period, the president will be tested for coronavirus, “as such, (the president) will be working from his official residence but quarantined away from his family.” Other members of his entourage have been advised to do same.
The statement signed by a permanent secretary on government communications also said Masisi during his time in Namibia held talks with his peers on urgent border issues in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other African leaders who attended the inauguration include Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa and Joao Lourenco of Angola.
Botswana is one of four countries in the region that has not registered a case of coronavirus as yet. Others include Comoros, Malawi and Lesotho. So far 43 African countries have recorded cases with over 30 deaths and 122 recoveries.