Editorial Comment: Declare lockdown NOW!

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Botswana, like the rest of the world, is fighting the spread of the novel coronavirus or (COVID-19).

Although Botswana is yet to register its first confirmed case of the deadly coronavirus, government has moved swiftly since the beginning of last week to impose restrictions and measures targeted at combating any likely infections and curb the spread of the virus.

First, it was President Mokgweetsi Masisi who suspended external trips for government officials as well as advising the general public to stop travelling outside the country unless necessary. He also imposed social distancing.

Then government moved in to close bars and restricted public gatherings to just 10 people from the initial 100. 

On State broadcaster, Btv, Vice President Slumber Tsogwane also said government has imposed restrictions on the movement of people visiting neighbouring countries including South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. 

He mentioned restricted movements with the exception of transportation of goods and services.

However, with neighbouring countries such as Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe recording confirmed cases of the virus, it is time Botswana ups the ante with much more stringent measures.

Botswana might be lucky to have not yet registered a confirmed case, but this could be short-lived.   

Now that the President has given an indication that a lockdown is imminent and that it is just a matter of time, we are of the view that the lockdown should be instituted immediately.

We still have a window of opportunity to stop COVID-19 from spreading. These staggered precautionary measures do not seem coordinated, and could open doors for the virus to find its way into our shores.

South Africa began its 21-day lockdown last night. In light of that, it is important that Botswana’s lockdown is synchronised with that of South Africa, otherwise the pain of being in imminent danger will be prolonged.

We rely on South Africa for almost everything that we consume, so it would save the country a fortune to synchronise the lockdown.

There is no need to give COVID-19 any chance. With our small population, we should not make the same mistakes as other countries.

Actually, already many Batswana are under self-imposed lockdowns. Batswana have started planning for it and seem ready. China did not hesitate to lockdown the country and deal with the situation hence their success in containing COVID-19.

While we strongly advocate for a total lockdown, we also warn that people must be given a chance to organise themselves, be it if they flee to villages or if they want to stock up foodstuffs. It should not be sudden action, like in the case of the mandatory quarantine of citizens and non-citizens, which caused chaos at the Tlokweng border.

We all know the lockdown will have a huge impact on the economy,but at this point, it is necessary to institute an immediate lockdown.

Today's Thought

"You can't make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen" - Michelle Obama

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