Africa 

Botswana locks up stubborn MPs who flouted coronavirus quarantine

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.

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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.

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