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Saleshando warns of covid-19, dispels myths



Funerals proceedings are no longer allowed to take more than two hours and are limited to not more than 50 people, Maun West Member of Parliament (MP), Dumelang Saleshando, has told Maun residents.

The MP and Vice President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) said this at Thito kgotla in Maun on Wednesday morning during one of his consultative meetings with selected village leaders, including tribal leaders, Village Development Committees and Parent-Teacher Associations.

“Because of the highly contagious and deadly coronavirus, the government is trying to reduce the risk of infection by limiting numbers of people gathered in one place. Food is no longer allowed to be served at funerals. Within two hours, the funeral programme should be done and the gathering dispersed. The two hours is inclusive of viewing of the corpse up to the dispersing of mourners,” Saleshando explained.

As the coronavirus continues to claim thousands of lives the world over and looms large outside Botswana’s borders, with all of our neighbouring countries having recorded cases of the virus, Saleshando has been criticised – on the sidelines – for putting people at risk by calling them to these meetings.

However, he had stated that his meetings are specifically to enlighten community leaders on the virus as a way to help curb impending spread.

“As it is, we are supposed to be, at most, 10 people gathered here. But we are slightly more than that because we – visitors – have added to your numbers. But it is important that this message is shared with you,” he reiterated.

Saleshando also told the meeting about the world situation, especially about high risk countries such as Italy whose mortuaries are overcrowded with corpses such that there is no longer room for any more bodies.

“Bodies are no longer buried but cremated as a result. We should stop thinking that this is a white man’s disease and act ignorantly because we would otherwise find ourselves in the same state as Italy. We have to practice precautionary measures and religiously respect and follow guidelines from health officials.”

The health officials were present at the same meeting and Dr Sandra Maripe, who heads the Public Health Division of the District Health Management Team, was keen to dispel some of the common myths about coronavirus.

“Garlic does not heal coronavirus, coronavirus is not a whiteman’s disease because it affects all races. There is this common belief that places with high temperatures like Maun are safe from coronavirus, that is not true! coronavirus can survive and kill people in high temperatures,” warned Maripe.


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Elephant mortality in Okavango rises to 110, Anthrax ruled out



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



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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