Acknowledging the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic that has hit the neighbouring South Africa and more recently, Zimbabwe, killing thousands of people worldwide, Botswana’s health minister has called on everyone’s involvement in fighting the spread of the pandemic.
Acting to safeguard health on Friday, government moved swiftly to close the operations of bars, nightclubs as well as reducing the limited numbers of public gatherings from 100 to 10 people in response to the spread of the pandemic.
Following this, yesterday a majority of churches were not open for their usual Sunday church services. The Ministry of Health and Wellness also issued an advisory pleading with members of the public to adopt the social distancing measures.
In an interview, Health Minister, Lemogang Kwape called on everyone’s involvement towards the global fight against the spread of the virus. Kwape said if people could change their actions for a while they could save lives.
“Everyone has the power to stop the spread of the virus and community events are currently not an option. We have issued an advisory and we do not want it to seem like a directive, but we want everyone to own corona (virus-threat mitigating measures) and fight this scourge. If everyone can change we would defeat the virus because it spreads easily in crowded areas,” Kwape told The Monitor.
The Minister said to enforce the law they would rely on the Public Health Act, especially if there is any resistance. Kwape said the director
Meanwhile, the Botswana Police Service’s public relations officer, Assistant Commissioner Dipheko Motube said as the police they would work together with the Health Ministry to unite people in fighting the pandemic not to arrest them.
“Arresting people can invite a lot of panic, what is vital at this moment is to prevent the disease. There are the Penal Code and Public Health Act that can be used to enforce the law.
For us as the law enforcing officers the enforcement would continue as usual, but this stage is key to talk on efforts to use in making sure that the nation is united to curb the spread and fight the virus,” Motube said.
Asked if they have any operation they are conducting in response to the government directive, Motube said the one that is currently ongoing is that of the concerned health ministry. Until they encounter a problem then the police would have to intervene.
“The law is clear, if members of the public resist, as the police we are always on the ground and ready to step in to enforce the law,” Motube said.