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Botswana Coronavirus Update |Coronavirus-COVID-19 Updates in Botswana

Government has prioritized reviving the country’s tourism sector as the gradual reopening of the economy continues after a virus lockdown.

The office of the president said in a social media post: “In order to revive Botswana’s tourism sector Government shall accelerate the initiatives aimed at stimulating local and regional tourism by creating an enabling environment for increased investment in the tourism sector and facilitate in particular citizen participation.”

The statement said the areas of agro-tourism and land tourism will also be identified and made available for citizens. The reopening of the country continues with a return to school on June 1. But parents are urged to stick to strict guidelines for children returning to school.

Full address – Presidential update on government response to coronavirus pandemic

Total confirmed cases = 35
Total recoveries = 20
Total deaths = 1
Active cases = 14

Figures valid as of close of day May 31, 2020

Road transport is returning across the country in the wake of eased lockdown measures. President Masisi in exercising his emergency powers authorized the lifting of transport restrictions from May 8 to 21st.

gazette of the new regulations issued by government indicated that road transport was the sole beneficiary of the order as rail and air transport remained banned.

Road transport services – not limited to taxis, call cubs and staff buses – shall operate from 8th to 21st May 2020 within a 60-kilometre radius of the place of operation.

Some conditions that accompany especially the public means of transport include: abiding with Covid-19 protocols, public transport associations to certify the readiness of vehicles to operate as per the Covid-19 protocols and the cleaning of vehicles 2 – 3 times daily.

Drivers are to also enforce adherence of passengers to using face masks. Loading capacity of different vehicles has also been reduced. Mini-buses shall carry 70 per cent of seating capacity with social distancing, hence a 16-seater bus will carry a maximum of 10 passengers.

As of May 10, there are currently 23 cases with 12 recoveries, 10 active cases and one death. There has not been an increase in confirmed cases for weeks now.

The Government of Botswana has issued legislation that makes it compulsory to wear masks/face coverings in public places, businesses and common areas of residential buildings from 1 May 2020.

Specifications have been issued in an official media release stating that medical and non-medical masks needed to be worn by members of the public. Whiles the medical versions are to be used by persons working in high risk areas, others have to wear the non-medical type.

“Cloth face mask or home-made item that covers the nose and mouth or another appropriate item that covers the nose and mouth when in a public place,” the release said of the non-medical masks.

The government urged the public to stick to non-medical masks in order to free scarce medical masks for health workers. Vendors are to sell medical masks to only persons in the medical profession, health workers, persons handling clinical waste or involved in COVID-19 related activities.

The government cautioned that the use of the masks whiles helping to decrease the probability of contracting the virus also need be observed along with “specified personal hygiene practicing and social distancing.”

Botswana case file as of today: 23 confirmed cases, five recoveries and one death.

Botswana, considered by many to offer Africa’s best wildlife viewing, is reopening for tourism as of June 15, 2020.

As of May 20, 2020, the government noted travel and tourism sectors can reopen June 15, 2020, and hotels and restaurants on July 1, 2020. Safari lodges and camps are not considered hotels as they are open-air in nature with their rooms set far apart. The government notes everyone must practice social distancing in addition to daily temperature checks, regular washing of hands, and masks must be worn.

Having noted the above most visitors to Botswana travel through South Africa where travellers arriving from COVID hotspots would likely face quarantine… who knows! The latest news from South Africa is that international arrivals may be allowed from September… or October… or November…

With a population of 2.2 million Botswana has had 25 COVID cases and 1 death.

Authorities in Botswana declared a strict lockdown in the capital Gaborone from Saturday after the discovery of 12 new cases of the coronavirus.

Under the measure, no one will be allowed to leave the Gaborone region, the head of the presidential COVID-19 Task Force, Kereng Masupu, said in a statement.

No movement would be permitted without a permit and only essential services will be allowed to stay open.

Authorities took the decision after 12 new cases, half of them in the capital were registered in the landlocked southern African country of 2.2 million.

The new cases brought to 60 the number of infections in the country, with one death.

The World Health Organization warned on Thursday that the pandemic is accelerating in Africa, which has thus far been less badly hit by the virus than Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Botswana’s director of health services, Dr Malaki Tshipayagae, announced Friday that the capital, Gaborone, will return to extreme lockdown after eight new COVID-19 cases at a private hospital.

“We are concerned because we did not know if it is a communal infection or a hospital-acquired infection, or [it] indicates significant local transmission, or whether there is some form of contamination at the facility,” Tshipayagae said. “As a result, because of those factors, or unknowns, we have decided to shut down or lock down Greater Gaborone.”

A further four imported cases were reported Friday, bringing the country’s COVID-19 tally to 60.

Tshipayagae said the army and police would resume patrols, effective Friday midnight.

“Movement of people will be through a permit and there would be patrols to ensure that rules are adhered to.”

People going about their activities in Gaborone, Botswana, before authorities announced the city's return to lockdown on June 12

Most economic activities had resumed as the diamond-rich country emerged from a seven-week lockdown that ended May 21.

Schools had reopened but will now close in Gaborone and surrounding areas until further notice.

Gaborone resident Mpho Marumo said the latest development is a drawback.

“It’s quite disappointing really,” Marumo said. “We were looking forward to… the schools, the kids. It’s a really big setback, the schools had reopened and now closed.”

Prior to Friday’s 12 cases, Botswana only had one active case. The country has recorded one COVID-19 death.

Gaborone Lockdown lifted, Schools to Reopen

Botswana Coronavirus Update 22nd JuneBotswana remains one of Africa’s least impacted countries, one of a handful with less than 100 cases of COVID-19. Government has in the past month taken drastic measures including a strict lockdown.

President Eric Masisi tested negative for the third time on June 1. The wholes parliament was quarantined at a point when a health worker tested positive there.

As part of containment measures, the wearing of home-made masks has been made obligatory in public. Data collection has also been a key plank of the response as part of contact tracing efforts.

Schools are also set to reopen along with the trend across parts of Africa. Strict health protocols are to be observed as kids return for lessons. This article concentrates on major updates from the country in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic. READ MORE…

Botswana’s director of health services, Dr Malaki Tshipayagae, announced Friday that the capital, Gaborone, will return to extreme lockdown after eight new COVID-19 cases at a private hospital.

“We are concerned because we did not know if it is a communal infection or a hospital-acquired infection, or [it] indicates significant local transmission, or whether there is some form of contamination at the facility,” Tshipayagae said. “As a result, because of those factors, or unknowns, we have decided to shut down or lockdown Greater Gaborone.”

A further four imported cases were reported Friday, bringing the country’s COVID-19 tally to 60. Tshipayagae said the army and police would resume patrols, effective Friday midnight.

“Movement of people will be through a permit and there would be patrols to ensure that rules are adhered to.”

Most economic activities had resumed as the diamond-rich country emerged from a seven-week lockdown that ended May 21. Schools had reopened but will now close in Gaborone and surrounding areas until further notice.

Gaborone resident Mpho Marumo said the latest development is a drawback.

“It’s quite disappointing really,” Marumo said. “We were looking forward to… the schools, the kids. It’s a really big setback, the schools had reopened and now closed.”

Prior to Friday’s 12 cases, Botswana only had one active case. The country has recorded one COVID-19 death.

Botswana’s capital city Gaborone was placed on a total lockdown on Friday following an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

Health officials announced in a public address on Friday evening that the city will go under lockdown from midnight on Friday until further notice after an earlier announcement of 12 new cases.

Director of Public Health Malaki Tshipayagae said among the 12 new cases, four were imported cases reported at border posts while eight are local transmissions.

He said they will be starting contact tracing and testing of people who visited affected areas immediately, and to enable the process to go smoothly, a period of extreme social distancing will be observed in the capital city and its immediate surroundings.

A local private hospital and a bank have been identified and shut down as areas where positive individuals had passed through.

Tshipayagae said during the lockdown period, only essential service employees will be allowed to return to work while movement permits will be required for people to travel in the city.

The new cases brought the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the southern African country to 60 since the first case was reported in March.

Botswana went on a countrywide lockdown from beginning of April until end of May and only opened up fully at the beginning of June.

The country has in recent weeks reported only imported cases, mostly from truck drivers.

Kereng Masupu, coordinator of the presidential task force for COVID-19, said they are going to make investigations on the surge of locally transmitted cases to establish if there has been a lapse in the testing process or there is a new hot spot in the city

Botswana capital city Gaborone was put on lockdown on Monday after registering a new positive case of COVID-19 on Sunday.

Barely two days after easing of restrictions of movement within the country to open up the economy, the Coordinator of the Presidential COVID-19 Task Force Kereng Masupu told the media on Monday that they have taken a decision to suspend travel in and out of the capital city with immediate effect.

He said only those with essential permits will be allowed to travel.

Masupu said this comes after a truck driver who came into Gaborone from neighbouring South Africa on Saturday tested positive for the virus.

The results for the driver only came out on Sunday when he had already made contact with several other people.

Masupu said health officials are currently tracing those who came into contact with the driver for testing while the driver is admitted at a local hospital for COVID-19.

He also said that all businesses where the driver had been to were closed immediately and will remain closed until health officials deem it safe to open them.

Despite having been on full lockdown, Botswana borders had remained open to allow transport of essential goods, especially food from South Africa.

The case is the first positive case of the virus in the Southern African country in over two weeks and brings the total number of positive cases to 24.

Amongst these, there was one death recorded and 11 recoveries and 12 active cases.

At least 50, 000 public officers were expected to return to work on Monday after the country went into lockdown on April 2.

Meanwhile, Masupu assured that an effective screening system to contain the spread of the pandemic is in place.

The Government of Botswana has moved to Phase 3 in its gradual re-opening of the economy.  Phase 3 provisionally lasts from May 15 through May 22, during which a whole range of shops and industries may re-open.

All business will require temperature screening, face coverings for entry, cleaning and disinfection two to three times per day, hand sanitizing upon entry and throughout the establishment, and a register of all who enter.  We recommend bringing your own pen when you plan to shop or enter other businesses.  Keep in mind you may be refused entry if you do not comply with all of the restrictions listed.

Botswana is now divided into nine geographical zones (see map below).  Travel within the zones still requires an individual permit acquired online through Phase 3 (ends provisionally on May 22).  Travel between zones is restricted to essential services and employer-submitted work permits (pink and green permits).  All permits are found online at https://www.gov.bw

If the threat eases, the restrictions may be lifted more quickly.  If the threat exceeds the current level at any point, the original 28-day lockdown rules, or stricter rules, will be put back in place.  Please continue to check the Botswana Ministry of Health and Wellness’ Facebook page and https://twitter.com/BWGovernment for the latest information.

There are currently no commercial flights, special flights or government charters available, and borders are still closed for regular travel.  Be prepared to shelter in place until commercial flights resume or borders open, which could be several months.

U.S. citizens who remain interested in returning home should contact us at the following link and fill out the form carefully, then submit:

If you are travelling with others, you must complete the form for each person in your group. Entering your data into this form will add you to a list to get separate emails with flight information and logistics.  If you have already completed this form, please do not complete it again.  If you have previously completed the form and no longer wish to depart Botswana, please contact us at ConsularGaborone@state.gov so we can remove you from the list.

Repatriation requests can also be made through our website at https://bw.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/.

In the meantime, please do not forget to register in STEP for the latest alerts and information from the U.S. Embassy in Gaborone at https://step.state.gov  

Botswana’s president Mokgweetsi Masisi has declared a state of emergency until further notice following the confirmation of three coronavirus cases in the southern African country.

Rather than the 21-days allocated to a state of emergency in the constitution, Masisi said it “would not be sufficient to employ the necessary measures to fight this pandemic”.

He also announced a lockdown for 28 days starting on Thursday.

“The threat to Botswana has escalated considerably in view of the fact that our neighbouring countries have seen a rapid rise in confirmed cases, some of which have resulted in fatalities,” he said.

“The other challenge is the low rate of testing of suspected cases in Botswana and cumbersome health protocols. The return of some of our citizens and residents from high-risk countries has also escalated the threat of the virus in our country.”

Of those countries reporting cases, Botswana has the least in Africa along with Somalia and Liberia.

Botswana remains one of Africa’s least impacted countries, one of a handful with less than 100 cases of COVID-19. Government has in the past month taken drastic measures including a strict lockdown.

President Eric Masisi tested negative for the third time on June 1. The wholes parliament was quarantined at a point when a health worker tested positive there.

As part of containment measures, the wearing of home-made masks has been made obligatory in public. Data collection has also been a key plank of the response as part of contact tracing efforts.

July 3: Foreign Affairs Ministry shut

The Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation has been shut “due to COVID-19 exposure,” government confirmed on Friday.

“… in line with the precautionary protocol measures, the Ministry Headquarters will provide its services remotely until further notice.

“The Ministry Headquarters in Gaborone will be closed to the public and visitors,” an official statement added.

Total confirmed cases = 227
Total recoveries = 28
Total deaths = 1
Active cases = 198

Figures valid as of close of day July 2, 2020

President Masisi is in quarantine following the discovery of a positive case on one of the officers “closely serving” him. It will be the fourth time the president is quarantining.

A statement from his office confirming the incident read in part: “The Office of the President regrets to inform that due to the discovery of a positive Covid-19 test result last night on one of the officials closely serving His Excellency the President Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi.

“… the usual Covid-19 precautionary protocols have been activated, resulting in the immediate self-quarantine of His Excellency the President and some of his inner circle of officials. Contact Tracing is continuing and further updates will be made in the course of time,” it added.

  • First quarantine after a trip to Namibia for the inauguration ceremony
  • Second quarantine, after exposure to infected person during a parliamentary session
  • Third quarantine, after a trip to Zimbabwe for SADC meeting

In some parts of Botswana, parents looking for regular updates on their children progress in school, or teachers trying to quickly get in touch with parents will no longer need to wait for the periodic parents-teachers’ meetings or the end of a term to find out.

“A connected smartphone is all it will take,” Tiyapo Spinks Salani, tells Africa Renewal, in a telephone interview.

Mr. Salani is the Coordinator of e-Thuto, a digital learning platform being implemented in the north-eastern region of Botswana as part of the national government’s drive to digitalize learning across the country.  It serves close to 35,000 students, from primary to high school level, in the region.

e-Thuto, an interactive web-based platform, brings teachers, learners and parents together in an effort to improve education by making educational material and administrative information easily accessible.

Started in 2017, the initiative is being recognized today by the United Nations Public Service Awards 2020 for its value to communities in North-East Botswana after being showcased a year ago at the Botswana Public Service Day.

Six other initiatives in Asia, Europe, South and Latin America are also being recognized today for finding innovative ways to deliver service. These include improving access to health care (Republic of Korea); helping low income households benefit from social tariffs (Portugal), improving school attendance (Brazil), and making land transfers easier for the poor (Bangladesh).

The United Nations General Assembly designated 23 June as UN Public Service Day to celebrate initiatives and innovations that contribute to making a difference in public service delivery around the world. The dayrecognizes the work of public servants and encourages young people to pursue careers in the public sector.

“We wanted to come up with a tool that will actually help our teachers and learners,” Mr. Salani explains, adding: “It is about assisting the teachers so they can have access to teaching materials, be able to communicate and collaborate among themselves and give more information to the learners.”

Teachers looking to refresh their skills or to update their teaching materials should also have it easier with e-Thuto, as is finding administrative data on learners and teachers across the region.

Basically, e-Thuto is a two-part website consisting of e-learning and data management modules.

The e-learning module is open for use by teachers and students, with the possibility of parents actively participating in the ongoing learning activities.

“They won’t have to wait until the end of a term or end of year to find out about how their children are doing,” Mr. Salani says. And “teachers can easily and almost instantly connect”.

Botswana students and their teacher in a computer lab/Tiya Siyapo.

The second module, he explains, “manages the regional data of staff and student information. This has resulted in the creation of one virtual office where all the data in the region is stored and where information, including individual learning performance, can be accessed.”

As the rest of the country was making progress, according to Mr. Salani, the northeast was lagging behind in the government’s drive to fully implement ICT policy in its education system nationwide. Hence, the project started as a way of offering content to teachers and learners.

Adding a data management module ended up making it more relevant. As data is no longer processed and stored manually, learners and teachers have a greater incentive to use ICT for learning and administrative purposes.

Access to technological hardware remains a challenge, however. “Individually, students do not all have personal computers, and not every teacher has one either,” says Mr. Salani.

Still, most schools are equipped with computer labs where access is free. And in trying to stay in touch with teachers, parents can always “communicate by SMS”. Something that wasn’t possible before.

In awarding the UN prize, the selection jury noted that the project had provided a platform for both learners and teachers to use and enhance ICT skills, while also offering enhanced data management of student and school performance.

“It has provided an effective learning environment that ensures inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all,” said the jury.

The Public Service Award 2020 competition attracted 403 nominations  from 67 countries. Fifty of those entries came from the African region.

Public schools in Botswana re-opened this week, after a two-month break due to COVID-19, but some remained closed as they failed to meet new safety requirements.

This week, Botswana reopened schools following the end of a seven-week lockdown on May 21.

While the government made efforts to upgrade facilities at public schools, some were not ready on the day of reopening on Tuesday.

Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions secretary-general, Tabokani Rari said the reopening should have been delayed.

“The best solution in our view is that we should push the deadline or the timeline for reopening by two weeks so that we could then push those that are behind to also move towards complying so that when we restart schools,” Rari said. “All schools should open at the same time.”

Rari estimates that around 60% of public schools had not met the new safety standard.

Learners in Gaborone practise social distancing while being addressed by their teachers on the opening day. (Photo: Mqondisi Dube)

The government embarked on an exercise to upgrade public schools to improve hygiene.

This included installing washing basins and building additional toilets.
While most learners heeded the call to return to class, some parents, like 38-year-old resident, Goabaone Modise remain skeptical.

“I would not want to take chances. There are concerns that some schools are not ready,” Modise said. “I will therefore not risk sending my child to school now. She will only go after I am fully satisfied that the school is compliant.”

President Mokgweetsi Masisi was expected to tour some schools in Gaborone on Friday, to check progress. He said his government will do its best to protect teachers and students from COVID-19 infection.

“The education system is ready to adapt to the new normal. To this end, class sizes have been reduced by half (to observe social distancing). Health and safety measures will be high on the daily agenda ,” Masisi said.

Only students sitting for their final year examinations returned to class. The remaining grades are expected back by mid-June.

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Friday reminded teachers of the need to embrace Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for information dissemination and social interaction.

In his message marking the occasion of the National Teachers’ Day, which is celebrated annually on the first Friday of June in Botswana, Masisi described the occasion as “auspicious” that recognizes the contribution of teachers to the socio-economic development of Botswana.

“I want to remind you (teachers) that there is need to embrace Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for information dissemination and social interaction, especially in these difficult times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Masisi.

Botswana closed schools on March 20 this year, as a precautionary measure to contain the spread and transmission of the deadly global pandemic. The closure of schools forced teachers to turn to technology in order to continue teaching remotely during the times of social distancing.

Although schools reopened last week in a phased approach, Masisi said “we have had to introspect on how we do things and identify new methods of delivering education to ensure the realizations and aspirations of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal on Quality Education.”

Under the new normal, Masisi said teachers will need to be innovative and flexible by ensuring that curriculum delivery and syllabus coverage is completed in the most efficient and effective manner, he said.

“Measures such as e-learning, flip school, the double shift model and flexible lesson schedules should be explored to provide the best learning platforms and environment for our children,” Masisi said.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s latest statistics, Botswana has one of the highest literacy rates not just in Africa but across the world, at over 86 percent for people aged 15 years and above. Enditem

Botswana has delayed the reopening of schools countrywide due to the reported increased risk of Covid-19 in the capital Gaborone.

“Classes which were scheduled to open on the 16th June 2020 will not open as scheduled until further notice. This applies to all zones across the country,” the ministry of basic education said in a statement.

It said all public and private schools in the Greater Gaborone zone would be closed until further notice and that pupils who were boarders would remain at the institutions as lockdown restrictions did not allow them to travel.

Completing classes — namely standard 7 as well as forms 3 and 5 — in zones not affected by the lockdown would continue to go to school, the statement added.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi declared an indefinite lockdown for the Greater Gaborone zone on Friday, after new Covid-19 infection cases were reported.

Under the lockdown, no movement will be allowed without a permit and all businesses and offices may only continue operating if their employees work remotely from home, except for those designated as essential service providers.

All religious places of worship will stay closed and the number of people attending a funeral will be capped at 50 and the sale of alcohol is barred.

Liquor includes all traditional beers will not be sold for the period of the lockdown.

People are only allowed to leave their homes between 8am and 8 pm to buy food, fill up on fuel at garages or go to pharmacies, agricultural shops, banks, insurance companies and places designated for the collection of social protection packages.

Botswana has so far recorded 60 Covid-19 infection cases with one death and 24 recoveries.

Botswana on Thursday became the latest country to shut down schools across the country despite not having had any confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease.

Updating the nation during a press briefing, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said as a precaution, the government has taken a decision to halt all learning activities until further notice.

Masisi said the government has decided that schools be closed on Friday until further notice as a response to the COVID-19. He also said Botswana has not registered any COVID-19 case.

“Today there are no known cases in Botswana,” Masisi said.

However, neighbouring countries South Africa has recorded more than 116 cases while Namibia and Zambia have two each case.

Due to the spread of the coronavirus, many countries around the world have closed schools to avoid large gatherings.

“We have not declared this as a disaster or even a state of emergency; it is a public emergency at the moment because we have no case. We will continue monitoring the situation, Masisi said.

Botswana’s capital, Gaborone, has been put back on a two-week lockdown beginning Friday, shutting schools and limiting movements, having doubled COVID-19 transmissions this week. Botswana’s health minister, Dr Lemogang Kwape, said it needed a return to lockdown after the capital went into a “worrying rise” in the number of COVID-19 cases.

“I regret to inform you now that in the last 24 hours, the situation has deteriorated,” he said. “Botswana recorded 30 new positive COVID-19 cases, with most cases emanating from schools in the greater Gaborone.”

On Friday, authorities closed schools in Gaborone and resumed demanding temporary permits for everyone to travel about, with the exception of critical staff. However, schools in Botswana elsewhere remain free.

Confirmed, local Gaborone virus transmissions have doubled in the last week, from 70 to 140, most of which were recorded in schools.

Kwape said tracing contacts had become complex. He also said some transportation operators failed to maintain a passenger register, as required by COVID-19 regulations.

“During the course of this week, the disease has taken an unexpected turn. This now requires that we place the greater Gaborone zone under lockdown for a minimum period of two weeks to enable us to contain the disease,” Kwape said.

This is the second time for locking down the capital since the pandemic started.

Botswana has been relatively unscathed by the virus, with 804 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two deaths, compared to other African countries.

The neighbour of Botswana, South Africa, is the continent’s worst-hit with reported cases of COVID-19 reaching half a million.

Many confirmed cases in Botswana were along the border-and most of them were foreigners.

Botswana is one of many other African countries that are facing the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic and it is one of the first African countries to register a Covid-19 case. The pandemic has caused borders with the neighbouring countries to be temporarily closed as an effort to control the spread of the disease. It is undeniable that the disease is highly contagious and has caused economic challenge, especially to the low-income earning communities, and the normal way of life has been disrupted.

The government of Botswana declared a State of Emergency from 02nd April 2020 to last for six months, and also declared a full lockdown to run for two months. Currently, the government is easing lockdown rules with caution. When the full lockdown =was declared most low-income earning communities who live from day to day sales and other daily wage jobs were caught unprepared, with no surplus of resources or supplies.

At the time this was written, Botswana had recorded only a few Covid-19 cases with most of the people recovering except for one who was an elderly woman and sickly.

IMPACT

The Trust for Community Initiatives/Botswana Homeless and Poor Peoples Federation met with the Francistown City Council and the greater Francistown Covid-19 Response Team to come up with strategies to disseminate information and help to assess the impact the pandemic is causing within the communities. As it is mentioned before, the measures that were imposed on the nation at large had a significant impact, as low-income communities struggle to stay afloat without their regular livelihoods.

Even though the country had registered a few Covid-19 cases, the effects or the outcome of the pandemic left people without food and other necessities. Those mostly affected beside the locals were the foreign nationals. Most foreign nationals depend on the employment given to them by the locals or nationals and lockdown severely affected their work and source of income.

KNOW YOUR CITY DATA COLLECTION RESULTS

The KYC profiling exercise that was carried out in Francistown identified families without water and toilets that were affected by lockdown. Because of the lockdown rules, these families could not ask other members of the community to use their toilets – eliminating the only access to clean sanitation facilities.  It issues such as one mentioned above which poses threats to the control and defeat of the Covid-19

In Botswana as it stands it is not the Covid-19 infection that is the main problem, it is the indirect results of the Covid-19 that is the challenge as people cannot do what they need to do in order to feed their families.

RESPONSE TO THE CHALLENGE

Strategies implemented as follows;

The Trust For Community Initiatives/Botswana Homeless and Poor People’s Federation partnered with the Francistown City Council and the Diaspora Volunteers living in Francistown to combat challenges that came with the Covid-19.

120 households were budgeted for through the donation from SDI. Households were identified through the assessment of those who were most affected during the lockdown, however, the number of the people on the ground kept growing. With the partnership established between the Federation and the Diaspora Volunteers, we were able to sustain 230 households with food hampers and non-food items such as bathing and washing soap, sanitary items, just to mention a few. And some of the items to cover 50 households were donated to the Francistown City Council to contribute towards the city’s Food Bank which was meant to cater for only locals as a way to strengthen our partnership with the City Council. Items donated include a formula for newborn babies, sanitary items, and food items.

12 families were assisted with 12 temporary toilets during this extreme lockdown period; these are some of the families that were identified during the Know Your City campaign to be without water and toilets. Some of those who were identified were able to install water and toilets after a consultative meeting with them.

Areas that were covered during the period were 18 and are as follows:

Aerodrome, Areas S, Area A, Blocks, Blue Town, Coloured, Donga, Gerald, Kgaphamadi, Maipafela, Monarch, New Stance, Ntshe, Phase 6, Selepa, Sommerset East, and West, as well as Riverside.

These are low-income areas where most of the federation members reside and foreign nationals find themselves staying.

PARTNERSHIPS

It was through the City Council that we were able to identify the Diaspora Volunteers living in Francistown. The partnership was established and it is through this partnership that we’re able to assist 230 households.

This partnership is not only functional during the Covid-19, but it is also planned to continue beyond the Covid-19 emergency period.  The Diaspora Volunteers has pledged to assist the federation in the projects we will find common ground in.

Meetings with the City’s Mayor and Clerk have been scheduled for August 2020 with the hope that the COVID 19 will not be as it is now. The meeting is aimed to strengthen and work on the issues identified, particularly focusing on water and sanitation in the areas where the KYC profiling was conducted. It will also focus on strategies to empower NGO and funding. The Mayor indicated that his office is open and that he intends to build a strong working partnership with communities. He said that the office of the mayor was not operating the way it should in terms of community engagements and it is his intention to make sure that community representation is felt. In as much as Covid-19 is a bad thing, it has opened his eyes to so many things that need to be done focusing on inclusivity and leaving no one behind.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENTS

The federation played a critical role in assessing, distributing, and disseminating information on the Covid-19 prevention. Some leaders of the federation are part of the District Covid-19 Response Teams. Their role is to advise and caution the community on severity of the pandemic as well as work with health and social workers.

The following are practices made to curb the Covid-19 infections, and this comes as an instruction and advice from the health sector:

  • Emphasis on exercising social distancing
  • Every office and shops register people for contact tracing
  • Wearing of mask in public places
  • Use of sanitizers or soap and water to clean and keep hands clean at all times.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana on Thursday began a 14-day self-isolation after an official working closely with him tested positive for COVID-19, the country’s office of the president said in a statement.

“The Office of the President regrets to inform that due to the discovery of a positive COVID-19 test result last night on one of the officials closely serving His Excellency, President Mokgweetsi Masisi, the COVID-19 precautionary protocols have been activated resulting in the immediate self-quarantine,” said Andrew Sesinyi, the government communications’ permanent secretary in a statement.

This is the fourth time Masisi is quarantining since the registration of the first confirmed case of the deadly pandemic in the southern African country on March 30, 2020.  Some of Masisi’s inner circle of officials have also entered into self-isolation, as a precautionary measure to curb the spread and transmission of the disease caused by the highly virulent coronavirus.

The diamond-rich nation with an approximate population of 2.2 million people has recorded 227 confirmed cases and one death. At least 181 confirmed cases have been transferred out since they are of foreign nationals who were either visiting Botswana or on transit.

Meanwhile, members of the public have been urged to continue to take precautions to protect themselves against the virus including washing of hands with water and soap, social distancing and using hand sanitizer where possible.

The government of Botswana introduced a lockdown in the Greater Gaborone COVID-19 Zone in effect from midnight (local time) on Friday, June 12, until further notice. Under the measures, individuals in the Greater Gaborone COVID-19 Zone are required to stay at home, except to buy essentials including food, medicines, or fuel/power which will require a travel permit. The lockdown measures are exempt only for certain categories of key workers.

On Wednesday, May 20, Botswana was divided into nine coronavirus zones: Boteti, Chobe, Ghanzi, Greater Francistown, Greater Gaborone, Greater Palapye, Greater Phikwe, Maun, and Kgalagadi. Authorities also erected 13 checkpoints across the country. Individuals are permitted to travel within each of the other eight zones without travel permits, however, travel between zones still requires a travel permit.

All international and domestic commercial flights remain suspended indefinitely. Medical evacuation flights remain possible. Authorities have also closed all land border posts with neighboring countries since March 24, except for freight traffic. All returning residents or citizens will be subject to a 14-day mandatory quarantine period in government facilities.

Authorities declared a State of Public Emergency on March 31, which has been extended to six months. A nationwide lockdown was lifted on Friday, May 22, allowing schools and businesses to reopen as long as they adhered to the government’s stringent conditions, including body temperature checks, regular disinfection, and the wearing of face masks.

As of Saturday, June 13, there are 48 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Botswana and one associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.

Botswana has lifted coronavirus lockdown and announced the reopening of schools in the capital Gaborone, according to a government statement.

”All completing classes (standard 7, form 3, and form 5) in public schools within the Greater Gaborone zone” will resume on June 17, Private schools will make their own arrangements on school reopening,” the statement said late Monday.

It said the pre-primary classes will open on Aug. 4 as initially scheduled.

Non completing classes in government schools are scheduled to open on June 22, it added.

In a televised address on Monday night the Director of Health Services Dr. Malaki Tshipayagae said lifting the lockdown was based on evidence that the risks posed by COVID-19 in the zone had decreased, Daily News reported.

Tshipayagae urged the people to continue to observe precautionary measures aimed at curbing the spread of the pandemic and avoiding risks during social activities.

The southern African country has so far confirmed 60 coronavirus cases, with one death and 24 recoveries, according to government figures.

On Tuesday, May 5, Batswana authorities announced plans to ease nationwide lockdown measures from Friday, May 8, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Businesses and schools will be permitted to reopen as long as they adhere to strict government guidelines. The sale of alcohol and cigarettes will remain prohibited until further notice. Individuals will also be permitted to travel to attend the funeral of an immediate family member or to access a farm, while nonessential travel remains banned. Authorities had earlier announced that the use of face masks in public is mandatory, and those who do not respect the measures will be subject to fines.

Previously, Batswana authorities extended the ongoing nationwide 24-hour lockdown until Thursday, May 7. The lockdown stipulates that individuals must stay at home at all time and need a travel permit to buy essential supplies. President Mokgweetsi Masisi also announced that two weeks of ‘sequentially easing’ the restrictions would begin after the extended lockdown measures expire.

Additionally, authorities indefinitely suspended all international and domestic commercial flights. The country’s land borders have been closed since Tuesday, March 24, with the exception of cargo transportation. Any returning citizen or resident will be subjected to a 14-day quarantine period.

As of Wednesday, May 6, there are 23 confirmed COVID-19 cases and one related fatality nationwide. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.

Botswana’s central bank on Thursday cut its base interest rate by 50 basis points to 4.25%, as part of a series of interventions to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The bank’s monetary policy committee also halved the primary Reserve Requirements (PRR) for commercial banks to 2.5%, and the prudential Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) to 12.5% from 15%.

To date, Botswana, which has implemented a state of emergency and a lockdown, has tested 6,210 people for the coronavirus, with 23 confirmed cases including one death.

“Our aim is to provide supportive monetary conditions for economic activity. The reduction of primary reserve requirements will free up 1.6 billion pula which will be used by banks to finance economic activity,” said central bank governor Moses Pelaelo.

Botswana’s benchmark interest rate was already at record lows due to benign inflation levels and modest domestic demand.

Pelaelo said inflationary pressures would be pushed down further by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures, which have disrupted production and consumption.

“To complement the bank rate in easing real monetary conditions, we have also adjusted the downward rate of the crawl of the exchange rate to 2.8 per cent from 1.5 per cent, in a bid to enhance to domestic economy’s international competitiveness,’ Pelaelo said.

Botswana sees its economy shrinking by 13.1% this year while the budget deficit balloons.

Mining, the country’s biggest revenue earner, is expected to shrink by a third due to a 6.7 billion pula dip in diamond sales earnings, down from a 20 billion pula forecast earlier in the year. (Reporting by Brian Benzna, editing by Mfuneko Toyana and John Stonestreet)

FILE PHOTO: President Masisi and First Lady during earlier campaigns. He has gone into self quarantine

 Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi has gone into self-quarantine after a visit to neighbouring Namibia, which has three coronavirus cases, to attend the inauguration of the new president there, the government announced Sunday.

Namibian President Hage Geingob was sworn in at Windhoek on Saturday.

Botswana’s director of health services had placed Masisi “on self-isolation for a period of 14 days starting March 21 following his trip to” Namibia, Botswana government said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

Namibia has registered just three “imported cases, and is considered low risk for (Covid-19) transmission”, said a government statement.

But there was a “high probability of undetermined local transmission” because of the low rates of testing in southern Africa, the statement added.

Masisi will work from his official residence, isolated from his family. Members of his entourage who accompanied him on the trip will respect the same restrictions.

Botswana is one of the few African countries that has not yet officially recorded a single coronavirus case, as continental numbers rose to more than 1,000 cases at the weekend.

As part of a slew of measures to avoid the spread of the virus to the diamond-rich country, Masisi last week suspended all external trips by public officers.

The government justified the Namibia visit, calling it an “emergency official” trip for face-to-face talks with his counterparts to discuss “urgent border matters” in the light of the spread of the virus.

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Angola’s President Joao Lourenco also attended the ceremony in Namibia — despite having declared strict travel restrictions in their countries.

The ceremony, at the presidential palace, was attended by several hundred other guests despite official restrictions on public gatherings to a maximum of 50 people.

WHO has provided PPE kits and has ordered digital thermometers and other essentials to support key preparedness and response activities such as screening and case management. WHO Representative, Dr Josephine Namboze and technical staff continue to provide technical guidance, training and support on a daily basis in all areas of preparedness and response. All staff including cleaners, security, immigration, revenue services, restaurant workers and others at ports of entry have been trained in hygiene and infection control while health staff have received comprehensive training from surveillance, infection control to case management.

In the last one week, the WHO Representative attended a meeting of the multi-sectoral national Public Health Emergency Coordinating Committee (PHECC) and addressed a joint media conference with senior management from the Ministry to update the public on the coronavirus outbreak and what the world, WHO and the country are doing. She also joined the Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Lemogang Kwape to tour key facilities including the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in the capital Gaborone, the isolation facility in Block 8 and a designated bigger isolation facility Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital in case of increasing numbers of people needing isolation and management. Dr Namboze and Minister Kwape also visited the busiest land border post between Botswana and South Africa to monitor Port Health Services and motivate staff. The country currently has 5 suspected cases and has not recorded a confirmed case yet. Test results from the Regional Laboratory in South Africa will shed further light on this.

Day to day, the Minister is constantly engaging the community including Batswana in Wuhan, China through various forms of media such as telephone, broadcast and social media. He has also engaged with the Chinese Embassy in Botswana. The Embassy is helping with translation of key documents into Chinese as large numbers of Chinese nationals coming into Botswana have difficulties understanding English.

WHO co-chairs the Risk Communication and Community Engagement Committee of the PHECC which advises the Minister and coordinates communication, awareness creation, social mobilization and community engagement. WHO has also briefed UN staff and partners and will continue to do so.

Yesterday (3rd February 2020), the Minister of Health and Wellness addressed cabinet on the status of 2019-nCoV and the specific actions that have been taken as part of preparedness.

The government this morning announced that President Eric Masisi was due to be released from home quarantine after testing negative for COVID-19.

“His Excellency went into quarantine following his one day trip to Harare, Zimbabwe on the 19th of May to attend the SADC Extra Ordinary Summit on Politics, Defence and Security,” a statement signed by his press secretary read in part.

This becomes the third time the president has been tested for the virus. First was after he made a trip to Namibia for the investiture of Hage Geingob. The second was last month when a health worker at parliament tested positive during a session he was in attendance.

All lawmakers and persons present were ordered to self-quarantine at the time. A number of MPs who flouted the rule were subsequently forced into institutional quarantine.

Lockdown measures were eased last month whiles government also zoned the country as part of virus spread containment measures. Strict health protocols and data entries have been legislated for public offices and private businesses. School also reopen this week with similar measures.

The Botswana government is emphasizing data collection at public and private business places as a key plank in the fight against the pandemic.

An advisory posted on Twitter over the weekend reminded outfits of their data collection responsibilities. Titled “Advisory on registration details required across all business sector entry points,” it said all organizations must: “… ensure and safeguard personal visitors/customers information in COVID-19 registers for the purpose of contact tracing.”

The required entries are Full name, contact details, date of their visit, temperature readings. Only an authorized official is supposed to make entries and anyone found in unlawful possession of the register risks a fine (5,000 Pula), a jail term (12 months) – or both.

The government is also ramping up its campaign asking citizens to stay home as much as possible. It advised people who could to stay, work and create from home, another advisory read: It is not essential, avoids it.

Total confirmed cases = 35 (new cases = 5)
Total recoveries = 19
Total deaths = 1
Active cases = 15

Figures valid as of the close of the day May 24, 2020

Government announced an end to extreme social distancing on Wednesday signaling the end of Three Phases of lockdown. A zoning strategy has been announced to help curb virus spread. The current case count is 29.

“A part of the containment strategy, the country has been divided into Zomes to restrict the movement of people; allow swift responses in the event of an aggressive outbreak,” a statement posted on social media.

There are nine COVID-19 zones as follows: Boteti, Chobe, Ghanzi, Greater Francistown, Greater Gaborone, Greater Palapye, Greater Phikwe, Maun and Kgalagadi zones. Thirteen checkpoints have also been designated across the country.

Issuing clarity on the issue of alcohol sale, the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry issues a statement that said it remained banned till further notice.

The statement said relevant laws are “subject to the ongoing State of Emergency, therefore, the Emergency Powers Regulations regulating the prohibition of the sale of alcohol still apply. Hence, there shall be no sale of alcohol in all liquor outlets until further notice.”

Government on Monday declared the capital Gaborone a “high-risk area” and advised residents to limit their movements from henceforth. It also suspended the pink permits which allowed for movement into and outside of the capital.

A statement issued by Dr. Kereng Masupu, coordinator of the presidential task force on COVID-19 read: “Following the confirmed COVID-19 case of a truck driver who came into Gaborone through the Tiokweng border on Sunday 09 May 2020…

“… the COVID-19 Presidential Task Force would like to advise the public that only those who have been issued Pink Permits for travel into and out of Gaborone are suspended with immediate effect until further notice.

“This, therefore, declares Gaborone a high-risk area and members of the public are strongly advised to limit their movements.”

The statement further disclosed that efforts were underway with respect to contact tracing along the route that the infected driver travelled. The patient is on admission at the Sir Ketumile Masire Hospital.

“Those holding Essential Service permit will be allowed to travel into and outside of Gaborone except for those holding the pink Permit,” the statement further clarified.

Botswana is one of few African countries that have not recorded increase in cases for over a week. A phased return to work measure starts today with a series of strict guidelines among which are:

  • Maintaining a register of employees, visitors, customers etc. that interact with a facility
  • Observance of social distancing of 1 – 2 metres apart
  • Provision of sanitizers and means of washing hands at premises
  • Wearing of face masks (home-made)
  • Deny entry to persons who fail to abide by guidelines

President Eric Masisi was personally at the airport in Gaborone to receive a donation from American TV star Steve Harvey. The 7.2 metric tonnes of medical equipment arrived on Wednesday. It comprised of personal protective equipment which will be used by frontline staff dealing with the pandemic.

The president said the consignment had been “donated by our friends, Steve Harvey “Mothusi” and his lovely wife Marjorie Lesedi Harvey.” The couple are good friends of the country having paid a recent visit to the southern African country.

The Government of Botswana has issued legislation that makes it compulsory to wear masks/face coverings in public places, businesses and common areas of residential buildings from 1 May 2020.

Specifications have been issued in an official media release stating that medical and non-medical masks needed to be worn by members of the public. Whiles the medical versions are to be used by persons working in high risk areas, others have to wear the non-medical type.

“Cloth face mask or home-made item that covers the nose and mouth or another appropriate item that covers the nose and mouth when in a public place,” the release said of the non-medical masks.

The government urged the public to stick to non-medical masks in order to free scarce medical masks for health workers. Vendors are to sell medical masks to only persons in the medical profession, health workers, persons handling clinical waste or involved in COVID-19 related activities.

The government cautioned that the use of the masks whiles helping to decrease the probability of contracting the virus also need be observed along with “specified personal hygiene practicing and social distancing.”

Botswana case file as of today: 23 confirmed cases, five recoveries and one death.

Botswana’s president and vice president have been released from home quarantine after testing negative for COVID-19.

The presidency in a statement today said: “Director of Health Services has released His Excellency, Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, President of the Republic … and …Vice President Slumber Tsogwane from home quarantine today, 23rd April 2020.

“This follows the release of their COVID 19 test results which came out negative yesterday,” the statement by presidential spokesperson Batlhalefi Leagajang said.

“All members of parliament have tested negative for COVID-19 and they are being released from quarantine,” Kereng Masupu, coordinator of the COVID-19 Presidential Task Force, told a news briefing.

On April 9, all members of the legislature were admitted to home quarantine after a nurse on duty at the parliament tested positive for the virus. The president and vice are also MPs and were present at the said date.

A day after the order, some unnamed MPs were arrested and put in institutional quarantine for breaching self quarantine rules. They were pictured in shopping malls at a time they were meant to be in quarantine.

Botswana, currently under a state of emergency and lockdown has 22 confirmed cases to date (April 23), one death has been recorded with zero recoveries. The overall test tally stands at 5,023 people. Two senior health officials were fired by the president on Wednesday for undisclosed reasons.

Cabinet members in Botswana have agreed to donate 10% of their salaries towards the country’s COVID-19 relief fund, government announced on Tuesday.

According to Vice President Slumber Tsogwane, members have pledged 10% of their salaries to the relief fund for a period of six months. The deductions will total P167,407.20 every month. The amount comes up to about $14,000 per month and $84,000 over the six-month period.

Speaking on state broadcaster, BTV, Tuesday evening VP Tsogwane said, the President , himself as Vice President, Ministers and Assistant Ministers have all written letters and authorized deduction of 10% of their salaries to help the nation in the fight against COVID-19.

He also thanked Batswana and the private sector for their continued contribution to the fund and urged others to bring their pledges, monetary or otherwise. The country is under a lockdown occasioned by a state of emergency imposed to curb spread of the virus.

Barely 24 hours after the government announced that all lawmakers were supposed to observe a period of quarantine for COVID-19, the Director of Health Services at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, says a number of MPs are to be put under government-supervised quarantine.

Dr Malaki Tshipayagae said the MPs in question had breached home quarantine after a number of them were seen shopping in supermarkets. He did not specify how many of the 65 members were affected by the new measures. The MPs are said to have been exposed to a health worker who was in attendance during a recent session.

A government statement read in part: “It has since come to my attention that some Members of Parliament have breached their quarantine rules by going to supermarkets thus spreading the risk.

“This is regrettable and the public is informed that the MPs have been removed from home quarantine and will be quarantined under government supervised quarantine.

“His Excellency the President, Members of Parliament, Senior Government Officials and members of the media who attended are urged to follow home quarantine rules and not risk the spread of the disease to members of their families and the public at large.”

The country is under lockdown after the President declared a state of emergency to curb spread of the virus. As of April 10, Botswana had recorded 13 cases with one death.

Major African stats as of April 10:

  • Confirmed cases = 12,369
  • Number of deaths = 632
  • Recoveries = 1,632
  • Infected countries = 52
  • Virus-free countries = 2 (Lesotho, Comoros)

Figures sourced from John Hopkins University tracking site

All sixty-nine lawmakers in Botswana have been placed under compulsory quarantine by the Director of Health Services Dr Malaki Tshipayagae. The parliament referred to as the National Assembly comprises 65 members of Parliament including the president and speaker.

The move follows a report given to the Minister of Health on Thursday confirming that seven new cases had been recorded in the southern African country bringing the national tally to thirteen.

“Amongst the cases is a healthworker who was on duty at yesterday’s Parliament session. Health professionals are currently advising Parliament on how they are to proceed considering that some of the members interacted with the health worker,” a government statement added.

President Masisi was in early April released from self quarantine after he travelled to Namibia for the swearing in of his counterpart Hage Geingob. At the time Namibia had recorded cases and Botswana had yet to record a case. The president’s test result returned negative allowing him to resume duties at his office.

The country is currently under a state of emergency with a raft of measures being enforced to curb the spread and increase containment efforts of the virus. Of the now thirteen cases on record, one death has been recorded.

President Masisi at an extraordinary meeting of parliament today stressed the importance of the emergency laws in a time as this. He assured MPs that no aspect of the laws would be abused.

“I, Mokgweetsi Masisi did not seek the Presidency of this country for reasons of ruling by decree; I did not campaign for election as President of this celebrated democracy for me to erode civil liberties upon coming into office;

“It is in this spirit that I pledge, and So Help Me God, that I intend using the declaration of the State of Emergency, solely for the purpose of protecting our people against the decimating potentials of the Novel COVID-19 virus,” he told lawmakers.

Botswana president Eric Masisi has tested negative for COVID-19 and has subsequently been released from home quarantine, “with immediate effect,” to resume duties at his office.

“This follows the release of his Covid-19 test results yesterday which came out negative,” a statement from the office of the president said. The April 1 statement was signed by his pres secretary Batlhaleft Leagajang.

The president entered self-isolation on March 22 after returning from Namibia where he attended the swearing-in ceremony of President Hage Geingob. At the time Namibia had three confirmed cases whiles Botswana had none.

The country has now registered four coronavirus cases, the index cases on March 30 whiles the first death was also recorded a day later. President Masisi in an address imposed 28-day strict lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.

Botswana president Eric Mokgweetsi Masisi is in self-isolation for a fourteen day period, the government through the office of president confirmed late Sunday.

The decision to self-isolate comes after he returned home from an official trip to neighbouring Namibia. He attended the swearing in ceremony of President Hage Geingob in Windhoek.

“The rationale for the imposition of self-isolation is that while Namibia has registered three (3) imported cases, and is considered low risk for SARS-Cv-2 transmission at the the time of His Excellency the President’s trip to Namibia, the low testing rates in the Region makes that determination difficult and there is a high possibility of undetermined local transmission,” the statement read.

The statement added that during the period, the president will be tested for coronavirus, “as such, (the president) will be working from his official residence but quarantined away from his family.” Other members of his entourage have been advised to do same.

The statement signed by a permanent secretary on government communications also said Masisi during his time in Namibia held talks with his peers on urgent border issues in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other African leaders who attended the inauguration include Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa and Joao Lourenco of Angola.

Botswana is one of four countries in the region that has not registered a case of coronavirus as yet. Others include Comoros, Malawi and Lesotho. So far 43 African countries have recorded cases with over 30 deaths and 122 recoveries.

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