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Deadly rabies outbreak rocks Ngamiland

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*Two dead after being bitten by dogs

Ngamiland and the North West District are facing a deadly outbreak of Rabies, with the disease believed to have claimed two lives since the start of the year.

As of last week, at least two people, an adult and minor child, passed away at Letsholathebe Memorial Hospital in Maun from suspected Rabies.

Briefing the media this week, the District Health Management Team (DHMT) confirmed the pair died after being bitten by dogs at different locations, one in Maun and another in Chanoga.

“Ngami DHMT is drawing the community to the ALERT status in human Rabies as of 23 January 2020. This follows the declared outbreak of Rabies in animals within the district as of December 2019. To date Ngami DHMT has two probable cases that have died following Rabies infected dog bites within the district,” declared the team’s Coordinator, Dr Malebogo Kebabonye.

Since the beginning of January, DHMT has registered a further 14 cases of people classified as exposed to rabies.

The identified individuals have since been vaccinated with the anti-rabies prophylaxis to prevent the virus from spreading in their bodies.

Goats, dogs and wild animals are said to be under attack from the deadly disease, which is easily transferable to humans through contact of body fluids.

The DHMT have warned that Rabies is highly fatal and has no cure once the virus develops into the disease.

“People should see their health care professional if they think they’ve been bitten or scratched by an animal and before symptoms occur. The virus is transmitted in the saliva of rabid animals and generally enters the body via infiltration of virus-laden saliva from a rabid animal into a wound (e.g. scratches), or by direct exposure of mucosal surfaces to saliva from an infected animal (e.g. bites),” explained Kebabonye.

The public were further warned to stop skinning dead goats suspected to have died from Rabies because if the dead animals’ fluids get into their eyes, they will get the infection.

“A person exposed to the Rabies virus can develop the disease on average within 7-21 days with latency of three months to one year. The virulence of the disease is dependent on the site and depth of the wound and viral load,” continued DR Kebabonye.

Clinical signs and symptoms often include fever, pain, unusual or unexplained tingling, pricking or a burning sensation at the wound site.

As for animals, the signs are similar to those in humans, including the release of excess saliva, hyper activity and signs of madness and irritability.

Dr Odirile Thololwane of Veterinary Services attributed the outbreak to the just ended drought, which saw wild animals including jackals interact with domestic animals in their search for water and food.

According to Thololwane, thousands of dogs have already been vaccinated throughout the district, with the process ongoing.

He further revealed the issue is being sensitised in schools, as children are at a higher risk of contracting the disease because they are more likely to interact with dogs.

Thololwane ended by advising the public to be wary of stray dogs.

The doctor’s advice on what to do once bitten

  1. Wash the wound immediately with soap and water and see a health care provider. Wash the wound for approximately 15 minutes with running water
  2. Do not cover the wound
  3. Visit the nearest health facility to be evaluated and receive the anti-rabies vaccine.
  4. Complete the course of the vaccine (five days)

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How Gov bluddered on first Corona virus death

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*Hundreds exposed to the virus

Government secrecy and unreliable communication this week dealt a devastating blow to the fight against Corona virus, exposing hundreds of people to infection in Gaborone and surrounding areas.

As people reeled from the announcement of the first Corona Virus death in the country on Tuesday afternoon, it has emerged that government had known about the 79- year- old Ramotswa woman’s status since Thursday last week and concealed the information both to the family and mortuary that handled her body.

On Wednesday afternoon traumatised Babereki Ka Lorato Mortuary staff spoke of how they were unnecessarily exposed to the deadly virus.

Speaking in an interview with The Voice Newspaper on Wednesday, the concerned Chairman of the mortuary, Martin Gabokake said the woman was brought in a body bag on Friday.

“Our employees asked why someone who had died at Bamalete Lutheran hospital a day before was brought in a body bag and they were told she died of asthma, and so they let the body in and handled it in the manner they normaly handle all other bodies,” Gabobake explained.

He went on further to explain that it was only yesterday that to their shock and horror the staff was told of the true nature of the old woman’s passing.
“ Had we been told the truth to begin with, the body would have been handled in a safer way. The fact that they brought her in a body bag means they new something and they blatantly lied to us,” Gabobake said.

Her funeral was also not accorded the security screening associated with Covid-19 deaths, a source has revealed. Health officials have since asked villagers who had attended the old woman’s funeral to submit for testing as they to may have been exposed to the virus.

This was another terrible blunder by government. Had they disclosed that the old woman had died of COVID -19 or even told us that she was a suspected case, most of us would have kept away,” said the source.

Meanwhile government moved to quarantine 14 family members on Tuesday. All mortuary employees and close associates of the woman were also locked up for observation on Wednesday.

Colleagues of the deceased grandson, who works for a local hotel, have also been summoned for mandatory testing.

“Her grandson (name known to this publication) continued working with us and it was business as usual. He did not know his grandmother had the virus and died from it. They were very close. He is the one who took care of her and took her for hospital visits,” the worried colleague has revealed.

Efforts to get a comment from the grandson were futile at the time of going to press. In a telephone interview from quarantine he told The Voice that he wished for privacy.

Botswana has recorded one death as a result of the COVID-19 with three positive cases currently stable at the Sir Ketumile Teaching Hospital in Gaborone.

There are 189 negative results, 593 lab test performed and 1856 people currently on quarantine.

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Politicians clash over Covid-19 meeting

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The fight against Covid-19 stepped into the periphery of partisan politics this week as the absence of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) leaders sparked accusations and counter-accusations over their invitation to President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s closed meeting.

UDC President, Duma Boko and party vice president, Dumelang Saleshando, were not part of the delegation that attended the three-hour long meeting.

Although Masisi stated that Boko, like other party leaders was invited, the UDC has vehemently denied the claim.

In a press release that was issued last night the UDC said. “We have noted the events that have been evolving around the Covid-19 pandemic, its a serious matter that requires all of us to work genuinely. We value and encourage national dialogue on important matters such as the fight against Covid 19. The truth is that the UDC president has not received any invitation from Office of the President and we call OP to provide proof.”

However, when the UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa was asked about calls made to him by OP, he said, ” I was asked about Boko’s whereabouts by Kaelo Molefe and I told him I was in Phikwe. I asked him to check him at his house. This morning I got another call from Professor Mpho Molomo who said he had Boko’s invitation to a meeting with President Masisi and I suggested that they go to his house, an address which is popular within the government enclave. I indicated to him that I had received a similar call from Kaelo Molefhe and he said he was with him. Kaelo knows where Boko stays having been his associate in the build-up to the 2014 General Elections. So quite frankly I doubt he would say he does not know Boko’s house. As regards Nick and Keorapetse I cannot comment on their behalf, ” explained Mohwasa last night.

Dithapelo Keorapetse too said that the OP was being playful. “Why would they contact me for DGB? They are aware of his PA, VP, Secretary General, Spokesperson and UDC NEC. These are the people from who to check him. Whoever wants the UDC President from me for official things is playing. The state has been to his house several times. How did they suddenly forget his place of abode? Even Kaelo knows Boko’s House from his UDC days, ” said Keorapetse.

The accusations did not go well with the BDP Chairman of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, who expressed concern that the UDC was turning a pandemic into a political mudsling.

He said that all efforts including calls, text, WhatsApp messages to Boko, Moeti, Keorapetse and Boko’s bodyguard were made without any success. “There is a communication trail to prove this. UDC must know when to come to the table and be patriotic on issues on national interest such as COVID-19, its very disappointing for a party calling themselves an alternative government to behave in this manner but Batswana are watching and we know they will punish them for this.”

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