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COVID-19 Task Force Openness Doubtful

Friday seemed like a normal day in the capital city Gaborone, until the announcement that Botswana had recorded 12 new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases that took the cumulative total number of cases registered in Botswana to 60.

A bitter pill to swallow came with the news of another lockdown in the announcement.

A statement from the COVID-19 Task Force, later in the day, stated: “The public is informed that due to the discovery of new COVID-19 cases in Gaborone, the Presidential Task Force has made a decision to the effect that a lockdown or extreme social distancing in the Greater Gaborone COVID-19 Zone only will effect from midnight today, Friday June, 12, 2020”. Well, this is indeed a bitter pill to swallow in that businesses are already starting to show signs of financial distress. Just as many Batswana were starting to celebrate having only one active case, boom! Nine cases at a go throw the zone back into the much-dreaded lockdown.The previous lockdown was announced a couple of days prior, so people were given little time to prepare for the lockdown, but the latest one was announced hours before actual commencement. While it is understandable that COVID-19 is a serious disease, which can have dire consequences, those making decisions should also be mindful that they are dealing with intelligent people, who deserve to be given proper information, so that they too can partake in the fight against the spread of the pandemic.

While we are not necessarily against the task force and all those responsible for releasing information to

the public, there seems to be little or no transparency in how the fight against COVID-19 is being handled. It is understandable that government may now be concentrating all its efforts in ensuring that COVID-19 does not spread across the country, but there are equally pressing issues that government needs to consider, and look into as it should have prior to imposing what looks like an impulsive lockdown. Many companies are already mulling the possibility of not being able to pay staff for the coming months going forward.  How now, with another closure? This may surely be the end of some companies, which employ many Batswana, and then what, after many men and women have lost their jobs?  The sudden lockdown as of Sunday morning did not have a timeframe and as such, seemingly not well thought out.  Yes, we understand the need for the task force to be decisive, but they can still be decisive and provide useful information as compared to imposing a lockdown with the over used phrase, ‘until further notice’.  Yes, we know the task force may still be awaiting results from the contact tracing process, to determine how long the lockdown will last, but the public deserves to be given all the information so that they can also plan under these trying circumstances.


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