Is Botswana Ready To Deal With A Looming Coronavirus Outbreak?

Despite South Africa having surpassed a hundred confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virusZambia having confirmed her first 2 cases today and Namibia having confirmed cases in the past week, Botswana is still yet to record her first case of the virus despite numerous scares over the past few weeks—results of which all came back negative.

With almost all her neighbors all having registered positive cases, it seems more and more likely that it is only a matter of when, and not if, Botswana will register her first case. The government already has some measures in place to curb the potential arrival of infected individuals within its borders including closing off some 12 borders it shares with hard-hit South Africasuspension of visas for visitors from high-risk areas and setting up a lab with the ability to test up to 500 specimens a day.

Despite these numerous measures in place to stop the virus from taking hold in the country, the problem is that preventing it from getting into the country is only one half of the challenge. Since its debut, the Coronavirus has proven to be able to spread quite fast because of its stealth-like transmission characteristics and with all her neighbors now having registered cases, Botswana registering her first case seems inevitable and this brings about the second half of the challenge—having to deal with the virus when it is within the country's borders.

Starting with the country's healthcare facilities, it is no secret that over the past years, the country has been struggling with keeping up with the demand for these facilities, especially in remote areas. A rise in cases of this virus would prove to be detrimental and disastrous for these areas who had been already struggling with basic medical care services.

For areas that have medical facilities, most of them are notorious for overcrowding, understaffing, lack of medical equipment and medicines as well as a host of other problems. Because of the highly contagious nature of the virus, if it was to hit the country, the current state of the country's healthcare facilities would prove to not be able to contain it and might actually contribute to the spread of the virus.

Apart from the health ramifications that the virus would pose for the country if it was to hit, the other factor to consider is the impact it will have on its economy. Botswana is already feeling the effects of it even before registering a single case with some small businesses who rely a lot on imports from neighboring South Africa already on a standstill. Should the trend of closing up borders continue, Botswana as a landlocked country will feel the consequences of failing to have sufficient industries to support intra-border commerce and with the virus also hitting the diamond and tourism industries, the country will also find itself regretting not having a diverse enough economy.

Another area that is bound to be hard-hit by the impacts of the virus should it hit is the education sector. Today the government—as a social distancing strategy to mitigate the spread of the potential virus— sent out a communicative instructing learning institutions to close their gates until further communication.

This presents numerous problems because to start with, no one knows how long this Coronavirus fiasco is going to last and with recent estimates pointing at least a couple of months before things start to subside, what will these out of school students be doing for all that time? E-learning would, of course, have been an option if it was not for the slight issue that Botswana's basic education institutions lack the very basic digital education equipment let alone means to support full-on online learning via digital classrooms.

Self-isolation is another widely peddled mitigation strategy for the spread of the virus after it has taken hold. It involves the infected individual having to avoid face-to-face contact closer than two meters for more than 15 minutes with those around that person. In Botswana, especially in rural areas, this mitigation strategy might prove to be a challenge because of large family sizes who normally stay in residences that are not big enough to practice self-isolation meaning that it will prove to not be that easy to implement which will further accelerate the spread of the virus.

Corporate institutions who might be forced to close shop should the virus hit will also find it hard to implement telecommuting or work-from-home strategies because unfortunately, the state of internet connectivity in the country would simply not allow that. Government departments who are notorious for their ever-down systems would not fare any better than their private-sector counterparts which will mean in short, both the private and public sectors would come to a halt, further devastating the country's economy.

The aforementioned factors as well as many others like crowded public transportation systems, which would further spur on the spread of the virus, show that should Covid-19, a scourge that forced China to build specialized hospitals within a little over a week and forced Italy to undergo a total lockdown hit, it will devastate little landlocked and infrastructure-less Botswana hard economically, socially and any other fathomable way.

The only solace in the situation is, of course, the fact that the country has not registered any positive case hitherto and keeping it this way is the only chance for the country to get past this pandemic unscathed. Having the virus within the country's borders and attempting to meet it head-on would unfortunately not end like the proverbial David vs Goliath battle in that the country is likely to lose hard in that match-up and for that reason, it is imperative for citizens to join hands—not literally of course—in taking the appropriate measures to stop the virus from ever taking hold in the country.


  1. Also the citizens lack the ability to understand and follow these new rules and expectations.

  2. I feel as though, it's already here!


Post a Comment