The government of Botswana has extended its state of emergency for a further six months to combat the spread of Covid-19. Unlike its neighbouring countries, South Africa and Zimbabwe which are opening up their economies, Botswana will stay under Covid-19 lockdown for a while maintaining several restrictions, including limits to international travelers and tourism activities.
Botswana has reported 3,172 confirmed cases of Covid-19, including 16 deaths out of a population of about 2.3 million people according to figures released Tuesday by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The disease burden has made it clear and imperative for us to extend the state of public emergency in the interest of the public,” said President Mokgweetsi Masisi, before parliament voted to continue the emergency on Monday night. In as much as Botswana will continue to restrict public gatherings, the public is encouraged to always wear Face masks at all times when they visit public places. The government has also allowed reopening of schools and the sale of liquor during limited hours. The diamond rich country has spent nearly all of its P2 billion ($171 million) Covid-19 relief fund to provide wage subsidies for ailing businesses, distribution of food to needy families and to buy medical supplies for hospitals. Opposing voices have criticised the government for extension of the state of emergency . “Households are under severe financial strain with wages in the tourism sector cut and the wage subsidy not in place to assist them,” said Dumelang Saleshando, leader of the opposition party, the Botswana Congress Party.