Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Parliament in Botswana endorses motion April 9 to extend State of Public Emergency for six months to curb the spread of COVID-19.

This alert affects Botswana

This alert began 10 Apr 2020 11:00 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Travel restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Summary
The Parliament of Botswana endorsed a motion to extend the State of Public Emergency by six months April 9. The emergency declaration was initially implemented April 2 in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. The extension has been opposed by the political opposition. The declaration provides the government with powers to curtail movement and travel. Botswana has already implemented a series of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19:

  • A 28-day lockdown (known locally as extreme social distancing) order was initiated April 2. Persons may move around to acquire essential goods only, such as food and medicine. Persons operating in essential sectors are allowed to move freely. All persons leaving their homes will require a Movement Permit. It is likely that the lockdown period will be extended by the endorsed extension of the State of Public Emergency.
  • Flights have been suspended and borders are closed. Transport of essential goods, humanitarian flights, foreign national repatriation flights, and the movement of residents into the country remain permissible.
  • Social distancing measures, including restrictions on public gatherings, are also in place.


Additional movement restrictions may be implemented by the government in the coming weeks. The emergency declaration may also be extended or reduced. The security forces are likely to deploy to monitor compliance of the social distancing orders. Clashes between police and persons not conforming with regulations remain possible.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers. Plan for possible ground shipping and travel delays; seek alternative routes and shipping methods for time-sensitive cargo.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
World Health Organisation (WHO): www.who.int

Botswana Government: www.gov.bw

Ministry of Health and Wellness (Facebook): www.facebook.com

Presidential Task Force COVID-19 Bulletin: https://drive.google.com