Botswana's Vice President Slumber Tsogwane announced on Tuesday, March 24, that all borders have been closed as a precaution after the first coronavirus (COVID-19)-related fatality was reported in Zimbabwe. Only the movement of goods and services will be allowed across the border. Any citizen or resident returning from a neighboring country will be quarantined for 14 days. Additional soldiers will also be deployed to security border crossing points. It is unclear how long the border closures will remain in effect.
Other containment measures are also in place to prevent COVID-19 from spreading into the country. Travel to and from high-risk countries, including Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Chechnya, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Iran, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the US is prohibited. All non-citizens or residents arriving from these countries will be denied entry. Returning citizens and residents will be subject to a 14-day quarantine. Bars and liquor restaurants are also closed until further notice.
As of March 24, no cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the country. Further international spread of the virus is expected over 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). 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.
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.