By Sunday our neighbour South Africa had three confirmed cases of coronavirus.
The three patients are part of a group of 10 who travelled to Italy recently. The confirmed cases have hit home and are too close for comfort.
While South Africa seems to possess the right tools and expertise to expedite timely detection and reaction in dealing with this new threat it begs the question whether we at home are ready for action should need arise. The Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW) has repeatedly assured the public that health officials continue to be on high alert. Many Batswana have relatives in South Africa and vice verse, and as such many travel to visit family, attend weddings, funerals and other ceremonial occasions, while others cross the borders to do business. If at all as a nation, we have been taking the coronavirus lightly, now is the time to raise the bar and stay alert. Since the outbreak of the disease, MoHW has been pleading with Batswana not to undertake unnecessary international trips. The Ministry has previously said it is prepared to deal with the crisis, but at what scale? The three confirmed cases in SA have caused a panic amongst some Batswana, as they should, and the nation needs to be updated at all times.
A leaked savingram from the health ministry addressed to HATAB made its rounds on social media over the weekend, announcing that the ministry had taken the decision to ‘enforce mandatory self-quarantine of
The leaked savingram, which was later withdrawn by the ministry, gave rise to debate on whether the government is prepared to deal with this pandemic. While MoHW has been trying to keep the nation informed, many still feel it is not enough. While others seem unbothered and untethered, some have questioned whether the ministry has a coordinated strategy to deal with the coronavirus? The withdrawal of the savingram left many questioning their confidence in government feeling like the ministry is indecisive, taking the incident as a sign that perhaps the ministry is not as prepared as it proclaims to be. Coronavirus is a serious threat with the potential to bring catastrophic consequences, and as such it should be given the urgency it deserves. It is high time that the government starts an aggressive campaign to disseminate information on the coronavirus, and find ways of keeping the nation updated at all times.
While those on social media discuss and joke about the coronavirus, there are more Batswana who are not on social media, and do not have an inkling of what the coronavirus is. The savingram, which was withdrawn makes mention of words such as ‘self-quarantine’, but does not go into detail what this actually means. As it is, how many people understand what that ‘self-quarantine’ entails?