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To lockdown or not to lockdown?

Wynter Mmolotsi

By Wednesday afternoon, Botswana had recorded, 124 Covid-19 deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic last year.

In his address on Monday, the Deputy Director Health Services, Professor Mosepele Mosepele said that they were recording 300 new cases daily, a development he described as a big concern.

However, the latest statistics has received mixed reactions from the public with some calling for a two-week lockdown while others are against it.

The Voice Staffer, DANIEL CHIDA engages some Members of Parliament, a Union leader and an analyst to get their views on which direction the country should take as a strategy to control the raging virus.

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Wynter Mmolotsi – Vice President of Alliance for Progressives (AP)

The current Covid-19 situation is very bad and indeed frightening.

The new variant seems to be fast, aggressive and deadly. Scientists have indicated that after 10 days the virus will die and on the strength of this discovery, it will be prudent for the government to consider a 10 – 15 day lockdown with a view to break the life cycle of the virus.

Martin Gabobake– President of Botswana Federation of Trade Unions

Across the globe, Governments are now confronted with the major challenge of putting in place appropriate exit strategies to come out of the COVID19 pandemic.

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Martin Gabobake

For Botswana 2021 seems to have begun at a tough note as the numbers of infections and death as a result of the virus are increasing at a high rate compared to the previous year.

This is a situation that brings conflicting decisions to government, as there is need to protect lives and also the need to consider urgent recovery of the economy.

Concerning approaches to the world of work with the implications of the pandemic, there is need for social dialogue amongst stakeholders being; Government, Employers and Workers Representatives.

Our position as BFTU is that there has to be consideration regarding any mitigation that could be thought of.

We are experiencing tough economic conditions as workers and society at large.

We are of the view that there has to be provision of subsidies for different sectors of the economy.

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Also there is need to consider that any introduction or changes to the tax regime or levies, particularly upward adjustments, government should safeguard against inflicting the cost of living in the long-term while trying to address the current situation, which might be occurring in a short term.

We are at a point where now the nation needs to take health protocols with the seriousness they deserve.

We as the nation are not supposed to be policed in order for us to comply with the simple triangle of COVID 19, preventive measures of; wearing a mask, social distancing and sanitizing/washing our hands.

Let’s join hands (Not literally of course) and fight COVID19, let us protect and support our frontline workers, let all of us be SHE patriots in every corner and every place.

Lawrence Ookeditse- Political Analyst and also a member of Botswana Patriotic Font

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The best solution is to get in a vaccine soonest.

By now we should be rolling out a vaccine programme and not still be hoping and waiting as we are doing.

Other third world countries have started rolling out vaccines- Morocco has started, having received vaccines from both India and China, Egypt has started, Seychelles’ has started, South Africa is ready, Mauritius too.

Lawrence Ookeditse

Being one of Africa’s more stable economies this shows we were late to act to purchase the vaccine. Accessing the vaccine through the AU is one option but we should do more as a country to individually purchase.

Still, we need to have our rollout plan ready and shared with stakeholders so they each can decide where in the chain to jump in.

For instance, there will be need for cold chains for rollout, as some of the vaccines need to be kept at even about -70c.

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I trust those in change have already considered the logistics but it’s best practice to communicate these exact details now so we do not wait for trials and errors later.

Since we were not among the quickest to get the vaccine, let’s be amongst the most efficacious at rolling it out.

Excellent rollout would mitigate part of the delay in procurement.

In the mean time, we must have all options on the table.

This may include short-term lockdowns if the virus keeps running amok.

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But any lockdowns should only be short term and citizens and residents must be adequately provided for by the state.

We must also improve enforcement of current precautions: masks, sanitize and social distancing.

It may even be prudent to relook some of the liberties such as people being allowed to congregate in groups of 50 or less.

With such provisions, people may continue to congregate without breaking rules yet these may prove spreading engagements.

Lastly, Botswana needs to now position health care as a national security matter. Covid has proven a matter of life and death.

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I’ve seen budget estimates and still argue that there is zero reason for the military to get 8bn while health gets 7bn.

You can not shoot viruses- you need ventilators and bed space, you need health care workers and clearly the struggle for getting vaccines demonstrates you need to invest in top notch labs and research on health care.

Let’s stop this thinking that we are third world and can’t do things.

If we have the Botswana Vaccine Institute producing vaccines for animal health, why can’t we produce vaccines for humans? We just have to be daring.

David Tshere– MP for Mahalapye West and also tasked with Health issues at Umbrella for Democratic Change

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In view of the current situation, I think the nation should strengthen our COVID-19 protocol: keep washing hands with soap or sanitizers, keep social distancing and keep mask on.

David Tshere

We should all take responsibility for our health and exercise caution.

There has been a lapse in adhering to COVID 19 protocols and it is a common thing until when the disease takes a person you know.

The other issue that has to be attended to is strengthening our relations with International Health Organisations so that we get the vaccine as soon as possible and at a cheaper price.

The President has to be honest with his people and stop being too ambitious claiming he will vaccinate everyone, it has never happened.

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