We have been following events concerning the COVID -19 outbreak that has since been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
2. We have similarly been monitoring developments within Africa and globally as repor ts have been posted and updated regarding the spread of the virus and inter ventions being imposed. Most impor tantly, we have also noted the speech by His Excellency the President of Botswana Dr Masisi when he updated the nation on Botswana’s preparedness to deal with the pandemic soon after the WHO declaration.
3. On the 16th March 2020, we also noted the communication/ press release from the office of the President imposing
restrictions and travel bans which include;
a. Restricted entr y of individuals from high risk areas with mandator y 14 days quarantine for Batswana from the same areas.
b. Suspension of issuance of visas from high risk areas
c. Suspension of international official travel
4. The restrictions also include suspension of social gatherings of more than 100 people for 30 days and limitation of numbers of individuals in all places to 50 individuals. This number includes banks shops, government offices and funerals.
5. Fur thermore we appreciate the decision to close schools from next week as requested by trade unions and Civil
Society Organisations, this has been long overdue.
6. We have also received repor ts that Botswana National health Laborator y has commenced testing of the COVID-19 with a capacity of testing 500 specimens per day. We perceive this a welcome development since one of the most impor tant aspects required to fight the spread of the virus is testing and getting accurate timely results.
In addition to the measures imposed BFTU would like to appeal to Government to;
a. Carry out as a matter of urgency, the economic impact analysis of this pandemic on business and the informal sector so that interventions can be discussed at tripartite level and implemented.
b. Collaborate with other testing facilities in Botswana from parastatals / SOE and the private sector to train more people who can carry out testing of samples and collectively utilise available adequate facilities to prepare for the outbreak.
c. Ensure paid sick leave for those on isolation especially in the private sector d. Ensure employment protection for those on self-isolation
e. Prepare for provision of income support for housing, food and water for all workers f. Have a fund that will provide bailout funds for businesses or certain sectors
g. Consider tax relief for businesses during the pandemic.
7. We urge all trade unions and their members to adhere to the restrictions as imposed by the government and also to advocate for better measures which will ensure that our co-workers, families and communities are safe and adequately protected.
8. We must continue to negotiate and advocate for mobilisation of resources needed for equal access to care for all as well as adequate protective measures for the protection of workers and their jobs.
9. Let’s all continue to practice good hygiene and be vigilant.