Authorities in Botswana have extended the national state of public emergency for another six months until March 2021 amid efforts to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Several COVID-19-related restrictions remain in place nationwide. Meetings of more than 50 people are currently prohibited, although religious meetings have been permitted with limits on capacity to facilitate social distancing measures can be followed. Most businesses in the country have been permitted to resume operations and schools have reopened, albeit under strict hygiene protocols. Individuals are required to wear face masks in public places, businesses, and common areas of residential buildings, as well as on public transport, and in taxis. Those in the country are expected to maintain an interpersonal distance of 1-2m (3-6ft) and temperature screenings are common before entering establishments.
All land and international air borders remain closed with exceptions in place for the transport of essential goods, humanitarian flights, foreign national repatriation flights, and the movement of residents into the country.
As of Thursday, October 1, there have been 3172 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Botswana with 16 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.