Botswana to close schools as COVID-19 cases soar

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi (front) speaks at a past function. /VCG
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi (front) speaks at a past function. /VCG

Botswanan President Mokgweetsi Masisi has announced on Tuesday his government has taken a decision to close schools from this coming Friday until August 16 as the country battles its deadliest COVID-19 wave.

Masisi made the announcement in a scheduled national address broadcast live on the state television channel. He said the country found itself in a dire situation of rapidly rising cases and inadequate vaccines.

As of Monday, the country had registered a total of 80,153 confirmed cases and 1,253 deaths. Active cases reached an all-time high of 8,970 with an average of more than 1,000 daily cases in the past three days.

Masisi said his government would prioritize to vaccinate teachers during the closure of schools as the virus has shown to be widespread in schools. Stakeholders have been calling for the closure of schools following deaths of at least 64 teachers by the end of last week.

Like many African countries, Botswana was facing a challenge of vaccine shortage. Although the uncertain availability of vaccines makes it difficult for the country’s vaccine rollout plan to go on smoothly, the government remains hopeful to have all those eligible to be vaccinated by the end of 2022, said Masisi.

Meanwhile, the president also told the nation that COVID-19 has severely battered the country’s economy and there is no sign of a quick recovery. He called on everyone to remain vigilant of the situation and do their best to contain the spread of the virus.