BotswanaScales Up Testing

Targets 20 000 InCommunity Sample Testing

Botswana’s ministry of heatlh and wellness has revealed plans to embark on community testing for the covid-19, targetting 20 000 people in five different areas around the country to have representaive samples. This comes in the backdrop of the country registering 15 confirmed cases, and one death, and also clearing over 3587 people who were on quarantine after testing negative.

Giving an update on Thursday last week, Health minster Dr Lemogang Kwape said the health staff who will embark on community testing across the country were undergoing training and the exercise was expected to start this week. Health ministry will work in collaboration with Statistics Botswana to help with sampling methods.

As of April 16, Botswana had tested and resulted 3602 people out of which 3587 tested negative, while 15 tested positive with one death. 207 waiting results. The number people had on quarantine 2573 were 2022 released, while 541 remain in quarantine and more than 208 in home isolation. The number of case was an increase of 2 new cases.

Kwape said they are now scaling up their community testing, as the numbers of people presenting with symptoms have declined, adding that sample testing with a target of 20 000 people will give the health authorities an idea on the movement and dynamics of the virus. He said where the virus is found within a certain sample area, they will contain it there and test everyone within that locality to prevent its spread.

The Director of Health Dr Malaki Tshipayagae has said results of the Covid-19 community testing which has been set to begin this week, will be ready in two weeks.

He said the initial 20 000 tests will cover the greater Gaborone area, Greater Francistown, Maun, Kasane and Ghanzi, adding that these areas have been selected on the basis that they are major ports of entry in the country. Tshipayagae further said Gaborone will take up most sample tests at 13 000, and the rest will be spread across the remaining areas.

He further said the public health director said for areas where there are already cases confirmed, contact tracing has been done with a greater sample volume, adding that community testing will be rolled out to these areas and others.

Meanwhile the World Health Organisation has continually expressed its concerns of Africa’s apparent unpreparedness to effectively deal with coronavirus, owing to its weak health systems.

WHO Africa regional Director Dr Matshidiso Moeti has in her various online updates expressed that the capability by African countries to test more people and also make follow up to those who test positive and their contacts to manage the virus.

As of Friday last week, April 17, there were more than over 18,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the continent, with a number of African countries imposing a range of prevention and containment measures against the spread of the pandemic. The whole of Africa has rising cases with only two countries holding out.

“COVID-19 has the potential not only to cause thousands of deaths, but to also unleash economic and social devastation. Its spread beyond major cities means the opening of a new front in our fight against this virus,” Dr Moeti has said of the Africa situation.

“This requires a decentralised response, which is tailored to the local context. Communities need to be empowered, and provincial and district levels of government need to ensure they have the resources and expertise to respond to outbreaks locally.”

The regional office has further said it is working with governments across Africa to scale up their capacities in critical response areas such as coordination, surveillance, testing, isolation, case management, contact tracing, infection prevention and control, risk communication and community engagement, and laboratory capacity. Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Nigeria have expanded national testing to multiple labs, allowing for decentralized testing.

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