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Chinese coronavirus suspect causes chaos

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Ministry of Health assures the public of safety

A Chinese man was on Tuesday at the centre of scenes of chaos and confusion that broke out in Phakalane as police arrived to investigate why he was living in a warehouse.

As police swooped on the property, the Chinese national, who has since been identified as Lin Xuenyang, bolted out of a goods container parked in the warehouse and took to his heels.

Pandemonium ensued as curious but scared onlookers were torn between watching from a safe distance and arresting Xuenyang as he jumped into a Toyota Fortuner and drove off at high speed with police giving chase.

A woman, who tipped off the police from the warehouse next to where the Chinese man was hiding, has told The Voice that she became suspicious when she realised there was a man living in a container being fed through a window.

“It went on for three days. Another Chinese man would come, stand by the window, hand over food and leave only to do the same again at the next mealtime,” said the informer.

An employee at the warehouse revealed the man had arrived in the country from China on Sunday.

“We have learnt that his brother was advised to quarantine him for 14 days, but now he is out and gone after only three days,” said the concerned woman.

However, on Wednesday evening the Chief Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Doreen Motshegwa assured the public that the Chinese man was caught and put back into self-quarantine.

“We did get the tip off and went to investigate. Fortunately when we got there we found out that this is a man who got into our country legally. He was screened for Corona and it was confirmed that he did not have any signs of the virus. He was however coming from a country that was affected so we advised him to home quarantine for 14 days. We shall keep on checking on him everyday to make sure he does as advised.”

Meanwhile, the imported container caused panic and pandemonium as people complained that it might have imported the virus and demanded it be sanitized.

CONFIRMING: Motshegwa

Dr Ntoni of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, however, assured the public that the virus only survives for 8-12hrs outside a human body or on surfaces before it dies and goods take several days to arrive here from China so the virus would have long died by the time the container arrived.

For their part, Police Spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Dipheko Motube said, “As police we are ready to protect the nation mentally and logistically if the need arises.”

The Coronavirus, which broke out in Wuhan, China in December, has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Whilst the unprecedented disease has brought much of the western world to its knees, Botswana, which has not registered a single case of the virus, has readied itself for any eventuality, banning public gatherings, cancelling conferences, closing borders from countries battling the virus and mobilizing health and government officials for action.

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Elephant mortality in Okavango rises to 110, Anthrax ruled out

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Wildlife and National Parks department has ruled out Anthrax as a killer disease for elephants along some villages in the Okavango delta.

As of Friday last week, at least 110 dead elephants were discovered in areas of Seronga, Gunotsoga and Eretsha in the past three weeks and were suspected to have died from Anthrax.

However the Anthrax laboratory tests have come back negative, leaving the government departments searching for more answers. 

“Laboratory results have ruled out Anthrax and we are awaiting more results,” explained regional Wildlife coordinator in Maun, Dimakatso Ntshebe.

Ntshebe said his department through the help of veterinary department services are still conducting further tests to find out whether or not this mysterious disease is not a result of poisoning.

The disease according to Ntshebe causes the giant’s front legs to weaken and therefore the unwell animal walks in uncoordinated manner and ultimately drops to its death.

“We don’t know what could be the cause of this disease but we are working around the clock to find out and hopefully work on the cure,” added Ntshebe.

Some samples are to be sent to South Africa for further testing. “We could have taken other samples to the neighbouring Zimbabwe, but because of COVID-19 that brought everything to almost a standstill, we could not send them,” Ntshebe explained before adding that, “before coronavirus outbreak, Botswana and Zimbabwe were in talks and have entered into some agreements including exportation and importation of certain medications, but we have not yet concluded the matter regarding samples, that is why we have not been able to send samples to Zimbabwe.”

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SADC Executive Secretary disturbed by obstacles in movement of goods

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The Executive Secretary of SADC, Dr Stegomena Lawrence Tax, has cautioned member states that any lack of cooperation among then during the COVID19 era has potential to reverse the gains made in the last decades.

Addressing a virtual SADC Council of Ministers meeting this week, Lawrence Tax said that the regional ministers approved Guidelines on Harmonization and Facilitation of Movement of Essential Goods and Services across borders early April. 

She said that whilst the guidelines have played a critical role in facilitation of movement of essential goods, there are notable obstacles that have been noted by the Secretariat.

The obstacles include non-compliance/non recognition of regional legal frameworks; uncoordinated operations at the port of entry among border agencies; lack of harmonization and synchronization of policies and procedures among, and between member states; unilateral decisions outside agreed framework; as well as different approaches to deal with epidemiological challenges,” she said. 

She added that; “all these are resulting in increased cost of doing business, and negatively affecting the implementation of national and regional programmes”.

She advised that there is need to have measures, and coordinated approach in place since the region is in a post lockdown period since the transportation of non-essential goods and services will be resuming.

Lawrence Tax added that COVID19 is a global pandemic and that the SADC regional approach should expand to COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite and eventually to other continental blocs.

“The Secretariat is already working with COMESA and EAC, specifically, in terms of harmonizing and synchronizing regulations and procedures for movement of goods and services under the Tripartite arrangement. We need to move in unison and avoid unilateral decisions, specifically with regards to cross border movement of goods and services,” she said.

According to the Executive Secretary, the regional office has already conducted a socio-economic impact analysis of COVID19 on the region and the results have shown that the pandemic will impact negatively across many socio and economic sectors.

“The decline in the global economy is projected to lead to a decline in commodity prices, increase in debt and significant contraction of the SADC economies in 2020. This will reverse the gains on industrial development and trade that the region has made in the last couple of years,” Lawrence Tax said.

On the flip side,  the region’s International Cooperating Partners have made pledges to mitigate the impact of COVID19 pandemic on its economy. 

“To date, the Secretariat has secured Euro 7.3 million from the German Government; Euro3.6million from European Union, Euro 190,000.00 under the GIZ/Africa Union Commission, whereas the African Development Bank (AfDB)  has considered a support UA 7 million. Engagements with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) are also at an advanced stage,” the Executive Secretary said.

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