Botswana intensifies surveillance of respiratory infections

A teacher checks the body temperature of a student before she goes to the classroom in Gaborone, capital of Botswana, June 2, 2020. (Xinhua/Tshekiso Tebalo)
A teacher checks the body temperature of a student before she goes to the classroom in Gaborone, capital of Botswana, June 2, 2020. (Xinhua/Tshekiso Tebalo)

Botswana has intensified its surveillance of severe acute respiratory infections in line with a World Health Organization resolution on responding to COVID-19.

Lemogang Kwape, Botswana’s minister of international affairs and cooperation, told the virtual meeting of the fifth executive board of the WHO on Wednesday that this is a more opportune time to intensify national surveillance.

Resolution WHA73.1 on COVID-19 response sets the framework through which WHO member states, WHO secretariat and other stakeholders can intensify individual and collective efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have intensified the national severe acute respiratory infection surveillance as well as integrated the epidemiological surveillance of influenza with laboratory surveillance into one system through the national health data collaboration initiative,” he said.

Kwape said Botswana has used the WHO Strategic Response and Preparedness Plan and its operational guidance to update its COVID-19 national plan.

The Southern African country has also decentralized its laboratory capacity for the detection of SARS-COV-2 to cover all high traffic ports of entry into Botswana, according to Kwape.

He said that it is of paramount importance that “we continue to strengthen our health systems to enable us to provide access” to high quality essential health services, particularly for the most vulnerable who have indeed been disproportionally impacted by COVID-19.

As of Wednesday, Botswana has registered 3,102 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 18 COVID-related deaths.