With the outbreak of the dreaded Coronavirus confirmed in South Africa, the disease became more real for Batswana. Anxiety is building in Francistown, the city closest to Zimbabwe whose collapsed health sector is a ticking time bomb. Mmegi Correspondent LESEDI MKHUTSHWA reports
FRANCISTOWN: Maxwell Keitsile, a Gerald Estates businessman has been paying careful attention to all the news about the Coronavirus since it broke out. He recalls how after the initial outbreak in South Africa, rumours began circulating of suspected cases of coronavirus in his home village of Maun.
More fear came from an article on Facebook indicating that there were two cases in Zimbabwe, a situation he says would lead to the easy spread of the disease to Botswana through the numerous illegal immigrants who cross the Ramokgwebana River.
“Everyone in the second city is at risk of being affected by the disease because of the large population of illegal immigrants roaming the streets. These people use un-gazetted points of entry and are not being screened for the virus.” He also noted that some illegal immigrants are employed by Batswana and hence hygiene practices should be stepped up to prevent disaster.
“Since the outbreak I have even stopped buying from the Chinese shops because I don’t want any contact with them,” he said. Local farmer, Alfred Letsholathebe, who lives in Area S location, felt the Coronavirus was a Chinese issue when the outbreak was first announced.
The 55-year-old farmer later learnt that the disease was deadly and affected countries worldwide.
“When I watched the news, I learnt how the virus was spreading like veld fire and I knew from that moment that we were not exceptional as Batswana. “Batswana should stop being in denial. This is a deadly situation and we should be prepared for anything because we will be affected just like other countries.” He continued: “We cannot run away from this situation. We have to take precautions such as going to the clinic when you have fever and flu symptoms and always practise washing one’s hands repeatedly.” Another concerned Francistowner, July Mbangiwa (77) from Newstance location, said that he was terrified for his friends and family members who stay abroad. “The best way is to practice good hygiene at all times. If something unusual happens to your body, just visit the nearest clinic before it is too late.” Soneni Mpala a 49-year-old farmer from Siviya village has now taken to carrying a hand sanitiser with her everywhere she goes. “I have trained my grandchildren into the handwashing habit. They are well coached about the disease as they are taught at school about the impact and facts about the disease” Local street vendor, Mpho Mohamba (35) said that she washes her hands multiple times and does not share food or drinks with anyone.
“I’m even considering remaining home during the Easter holidays because of the situation.”
Pauline Madare (28) and Sharon Jerry (38) believe government should consider banning people coming from affected nations so that people here can remain safe. For his part, Phetso Kgobero (22) expects the virus to wipe out all life on Earth.
“The disease is a punishment from God to wipe off all the people on Earth.
“For the time being, I’m limiting my risk by not going to Chinese shops. “If I’m in public transport and by any chance finds myself sitting next to a foreigner, I change seats or board another taxi to remain safe. “I am not a risk taker and my health is my priority. Whenever I get sick I rush to the clinic so that I can get assistance.”