Botswana makes mask-wearing in public compulsory

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Botswanan health officials on Thursday announced that it will be compulsory to wear face masks in public spaces as the country enters the final week of national lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19.

The announcement was made in the government gazette as amendment to the Public Health act signed by Director of Health Services Malaki Tshipayagae.

It said wearing of masks together with frequent washing of hands with soap and water were necessary as most effective prevention of transmission of COVID-19.

While washing hands has always been emphasized, wearing masks in public areas was not mandatory ever since the country recorded its first cases of COVID-19 in late March.

In the new act, a person should wear a cloth face mask or homemade item that covers the nose and mouth or another appropriate item that covers the nose and mouth when in a public space.

Also in the act, amendments were made with regard to travel and visa regulations. It said that all persons coming to Botswana from high risk countries as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) or any other country, shall not be allowed entry into Botswana until further notice.

In addition, issuance of visa at point of entries and all Embassies for any persons from high risk countries is suspended with immediate effect until further notice. Botswana has to date registered 23 cases of COVID-19, with one death and five recoveries.

Botswana’s president Mokgweetsi Masisi on Monday announced plans for the country to ease the nationwide lockdown that started on April 2. In the new plan, the President had expressed a desire to return to normal business by the end of May.

The country enters the last week of extreme social distancing on Friday and new regulations are expected to ease on restriction of movements and open up some areas of the economy by the 7th of May.

Meanwhile health officials are busy with contact tracing and testing in identified areas where the virus has been prevalent.

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