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31 Mar 2020 | 07:01 AM UTC

Botswana: Authorities suspend commercial flights March 28 /update 1

Authorities suspend all commercial flights as of March 28; confirm travel itineraries

entry/exit
health
transportation
BWA

Event

On Wednesday, March 25, Botswanan authorities announced that all international and domestic commercial flights will be suspended as of Saturday, March 28, in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country. As of Tuesday, March 31, it remains unclear how long the suspension will remain in effect for.

On Monday, March 30, Minister of Health and Wellness Lemogang Kwape confirmed the first three COVID-19 cases in the country. The patients have been placed in isolation at Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital in Gaborone.

The country's land borders have been closed since Tuesday, March 24, with the exception of cargo transportation which is allowed. Any returning citizen or resident will be quarantined for 14 days.

Further restrictions are expected in the near future. Further international spread of the virus is expected.

Context

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). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

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 COVID-19 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 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.