GABORONE – Botswana president Mokgweetsi Masisi has imposed another lockdown for three weeks after his country recorded an exponential increase in positive Covid19 cases and fatalities.
Masisi addressed the nation on Friday evening saying the pandemic has reached the highest prevalence ever, due to the Delta variant which is easily transmissible and apparently more lethal compared to other variants.
“Almost all zones have turned white which represents a disease burden above 50 persons per 100 000 cases.” said the Botswana president
Masisi says this is severely straining the country’s fragile health care system, and the worsening situation is a burden on the economy.
From Monday 16 August and for the next three weeks curfew is now 8pm to 4am; inter-zonal movement continues to be restricted to essential travel only; the reopening of schools is delayed for a further three weeks, except for students preparing for their final examinations; all public gatherings are suspended; only 50 people are allowed at religious gatherings and the ban on sale of alcohol remains.
Masisi says infections are continuing to increase and the current projections show that Botswana may not have reached the peak or plateau.
“It is necessary for the nation to be well informed about Government’s efforts to reduce the burden of disease to decongest our health facilities as well as to update on progress of the procurement of life saving vaccines.” said Masisi.
Botswana, one of the first countries in Southern Africa to start vaccinations says it is aware that people have become impatient with intervention measures as the majority are waiting eagerly to get their first shot.
“Of course, it saddens me that many have not received a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and they are obviously exasperated. I have seen hashtags, such as #vaccinateBotswana , which show how our people have become desperate. It may look-like government is not trying hard, but I can assure you that the opposite is true.” said Masisi
He said a reboot of the country’s vaccination programme that he titled his “Reset Agenda” continues- to carry out a robust vaccination programme that will cover every eligible Motswana, but it has been undermined by the inequitable distribution of vaccines throughout the world.
He assured Batswana that the shortage of vaccines is only temporary and has been caused by an unexpected high demand across the globe that far exceeds global manufacturing capacity.
Botswana has spent 309 million Pula in the procurement of vaccines to date.
“So far Botswana has received a total of 658, 690 doses of COVID-19 vaccines comprising of the Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines.
Masisi says the country has secured 1.3million vaccines that will be delivered by March 2022.
“We are also expecting to receive the remaining balance of the ordered 1.1million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, 100 000 doses of the Covaxin vaccine, 81 900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 500 000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, 361 200 doses of the Sinovac vaccine – made up of 61 200 from COVAX and 300 000 doses bought bilaterally by March 2022.”
And government has also engaged directly with vaccine manufacturers to increase the chances of securing vaccines for his people.
“We have signed agreements with Moderna to secure 500,000 of their vaccines. We have another agreement with Bharat in India for the delivery of the COVAXIN vaccine and for these we have reserved 100,000 doses which will be paid once the vaccines are released in the coming weeks, between August and September 2021.”
Masisi says Botswana recently signed heads of terms with Pfizer for 2 million doses and he hopes to conclude the agreement soon and in the next few days more vaccines are expected from China and the US.