Botswana health official issues warning as COVID-19 cases surge

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GABORONE, July 29 (Xinhua) — A health official in Botswana on Wednesday issued a warning to the public after local cases of COVID-19 doubled in two weeks, which brought the total number of active cases to 140.

Malaki Tshipayagae, deputy coordinator of the presidential task force for COVID-19, revealed this when addressing the nation on Wednesday evening.

He said they have realized a worrying trend of a big surge in local spread of the virus, something that never happened before.

His team is investigating the source of the recently recorded cases that include 22 children from one school in the capital Gaborone, he said.

Tshipayagae said their observation is that the public has lapsed on abiding by health and safety protocols prescribed to prevent the spread of the virus.

He added that it is difficult to do contact tracing as people who use public transport do not keep a register of the passengers.

There was a holiday in the country two weeks back and prior to that local cases were reported to be at 70.

According to Tshipayagae, the holiday might have contributed to the surge in positive cases as many cases of illegal gatherings were reported.

Botswana had been doing relatively well in managing the spread of the virus since the first case was recorded in March.

The country has to date recorded two deaths from the virus and over 80 percent of cases had been those of foreign national who were on transit or truck drivers delivering essential goods.

Tshipayagae further expressed concerns about the dangers posed by people who cross borders at illegal points, especially to neighboring South Africa which has recorded over 400,000 cases and over 6,000 deaths.

Botswana borders remain closed, except for essential travel that has to be authorized.

He said if the situation gets worse than it is, they will be forced to undertake other measures to prevent further spread of the virus, including a lockdown.

The country was on lockdown for almost two months between April and May, but was slowly opened up to allow the economy to run. Enditem

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