Although there is no reported case of the novel coronavirus in the country, the government has put in place a raft of preventative measures to control the virus. Mmegi Staff Writer LEBOGANG MOSIKARE observes that there are some red flags that, left unchecked, have the potential to reverse the gains that the government has so far made
FRANCISTOWN: A walk along the streets of Francistown and the Central Business District (CBD) shows that people are gradually taking heed of the measures the government has put in place to control the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
It is now a common feature to see people putting on masks to stymie the spread of the virus in the country.
Some Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMME) are also singing from the same hymnbook as the government.
The SMMEs are cleaning the hands of their customers with sanitisers and are also making sure that their clients practice social distancing within business premises.
On the other hand, there are some practices that leave a lot to be desired, which are drawbacks to government’s efforts to control the virus spreading.
Although there are a number of such examples such as overcrowded taxis in the morning when people go to work and in the afternoon after they knock off, Mmegi will for now concentrate on customers’ use of Automated Teller Machines (ATM) and trolleys.
While all the banks in Francistown are practising the measures of sanitising the hands of their customers and social distancing within their premises to the letter, the opposite obtains at their ATMs across the city.
It is common to see customers queuing in crowded lines while awaiting to withdraw or deposit their hard-earned cash from ATMs just like during the pre-coronavirus times.
At these ATMs, customers’ hands are neither sanitised before and after they use the ATMs nor are they provided with gloves while carrying out their transactions, which is contrary to what medical experts are advising.
According to Stuart Tangye – an immunologist at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia-coronavirus can survive on some surfaces like plastic and metals for sometime outside its host, but will eventually gradually diminish because it cannot replicate itself to survive.
Looking at the high rate at which people use ATMs in Botswana, it therefore, follows that the virus through the use of these machines may infect customers.
Tangye also advised people to be aware of the common surfaces they may touch when they go to shops or when they are holding onto rails in buses.
“People who have COVID-19 may not realise it if they don’t have symptoms at that time, or if their symptoms are mild, can still leave traces of the virus behind.
But just because viable virus particles can be found on a plastic surface for up to three days does not mean your risk of infection stays the same over that period.
There is a risk of infection but it is diminishing every minute since the virus was put there because of the breakdown of the virus on the surface over that time,” Tangye explained.
The Minister of Health and Wellness Lemogang Kwape said that he is aware that some surfaces like plastic and some metals can harbour gems of disease such as the coronavirus.
Kwape advised members of the public to be careful and not unnecessarily touch surfaces when they go out to do various things at shopping malls and other places to prevent possible incidences of contracting the virus from these surfaces.
The duty of making sure that the virus, Kwape explained, is not the responsibility of the government alone but all stakeholders including members of the public.
He encouraged members of the public not to despair but keep on adhering to all the medical measures that the government has put in place to contain the virus even though as of Press time there was no reported case of the virus in Botswana.
“It is the responsibility of everyone within the borders of our country to make sure that the coronavirus is kept at bay by all means necessary. This is a national crisis that should be fought by all stakeholders,” he said.