Covid19 vaccines arrive in March, movement eased
Community based care takes centre stage
Alcohol sold on take-away during week days ONLY
Discotheque, night clubs remain closed
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has pleaded with Batswana to accept vaccination without any hiccups because the safety of any vaccine brought into the country will be verified by Botswana Medical Regulatory Authority (BOMRA).
Addressing the nation on Friday night, Masisi pleaded with community leaders, civic organisations and politicians to unite in encouraging communities to embrace and submit to vaccination to save lives. He reiterated that, as communicated by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the first batch of 100 000 AstraZeneca doses will be expected in the country by the end of March 2021.
“First to be given a dose will be Health workers who will take the lead, followed by other Frontline workers. Those living with other commobidities and the elderly will then follow before the vaccination programme is rolle dout to the rest of the population. Those who, for various reasons cannot access vaccination centres will be followed to their homes to be given a dose,” said Masisi reiterating heartily that vaccines should not be considered a cure but only help the immune system to fight diseases.
“Our people should be encouraged to be eager to take the vaccines as soon as they become available. Refusal to take vaccines endager one’s life and the rest of the population,” warned Masisi.
Masisi said government has been looking into different available options for the vaccine, and will acquire different types depending on the Covid-19 variants currently detected in Botswana.
He assured that once the vaccines are procured every person currently living in Botswana will be eligible to be given a dose. “The disease does not discrimate on gender, physical features etc. Everybody will be given a dose. If we manage to secure excess doses we will share with our neighbours. Countries that tried to close out other nations have failed to contain the disease because the pandemic has affected everybody everywhere in the world,” said Masisi.
Reiterating the point, Deputy Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force Professor Mosepele Mosepele said herd immunity can only be achied in a population when a certain percentage of the population has been vaccinated. There excluding foreigners will defeat attempts to achieve herd immunity, he warned. Prof Mosepele said continuous evaluation of the performance of the vaccines will be carried out as the vaccination programme continues.
The first phase to vaccination programme is scheduled to cover 72% of the population, wherein 100 000 doses of AstraZeneca are expected in the first bacth of vaccines due end of March. Another 30 000 is expected in the second batch of vaccines. Botswana has placed a request for the acquisition of AstraZeneca, Covax and Pfizer (suitable for people aged 16 and above) vaccines. Other vaccines are suitable for people aged 18 years and above.
Botswana has also entered into agreement in principle with neighbouring Namibia for a back up on the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines should other avenues face challenges. The two neoighbours have also encouraged universities in both countries to entere into a MoU for research on the development of covid19 vaccine, Masisi revealed.
Meanwhile, Masisi annouced the relaxation of movement restrictions reducing the duration of the curfew to between 2200hrs -0400hrs starting 01 to 31 March 2021. From tomorrow (Monday, 01 March 2021) alcohol sales will be allowed strictly on take-away basis during week days ONLY while Discos and night clubs remaining closed.
Masisi expressed concern about continued illegal gatherings, which remain the major super spreaders of covid-19 leading to increasing positive cases when people do not practice social distancing, wear masks or use sanitisers.