Authorities in Botswana have extended the national state of public emergency through until at least September 30 in attempts to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The country has been divided into nine COVID-19 zones, with permits required to travel between the zones. International flights remain suspended and land borders are closed. Humanitarian, cargo, and repatriation flights have continued, though those traveling from high-risk countries are not permitted entry.
Additional restrictions remain in place nationwide. Meetings of more than 50 people remain prohibited, religious meetings have been permitted with limits on capacity and whilst following social distancing regulations. Most businesses in the rest of the country have been able to resume and schools reopen, albeit under strict health 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 nationwide. Social distancing of 1-2m (3-6.5 ft) is to be observed by all individuals and temperature screenings are common before entering establishments.
As of Monday, September 7, there have been 2002 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Botswana and eight 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.