Botswana capital on lockdown as COVID-19 cases surge

Botswana’s Minister of Health and Wellness Lemogang Kwape (L) and Chinese Ambassador to Botswana Zhao Yanbo pose for pictures during an event to welcome supplies donated by China to Botswana at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Gaborone, Botswana, May 29, 2020. (Photo by Tshekiso Tebalo/Xinhua)

Botswana’s capital city Gaborone was placed on a total lockdown on Friday following an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

Health officials announced in a public address on Friday evening that the city will go under lockdown from midnight on Friday until further notice after an earlier announcement of 12 new cases.

Director of Public Health Malaki Tshipayagae said among the 12 new cases, four were imported cases reported at border posts while eight are local transmissions.

He said they will be starting contact tracing and testing of people who visited affected areas immediately, and to enable the process to go smoothly, a period of extreme social distancing will be observed in the capital city and its immediate surroundings.

A local private hospital and a bank have been identified and shut down as areas where positive individuals had passed through.

Tshipayagae said during the lockdown period, only essential service employees will be allowed to return to work while movement permits will be required for people to travel in the city.

The new cases brought the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the southern African country to 60 since the first case was reported in March.

Botswana went on a countrywide lockdown from beginning of April until end of May and only opened up fully at the beginning of June.

The country has in recent weeks reported only imported cases, mostly from truck drivers.

Kereng Masupu, coordinator of the presidential task force for COVID-19, said they are going to make investigations on the surge of locally transmitted cases to establish if there has been a lapse in the testing process or there is a new hot spot in the city