Connect with us
Advertisement

Backlash over COVID-19 travel double standards

Barely few months after President Mokgweetsi Masisi called western countries paternalistic over the decision to put travellers from Botswana on ban in the wake of outbreak of omicron COVID-19 variant, Botswana has responded with a similar policy. 

The Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW) has introduced new Covid 19 requirements at ports of entry.  The new requirements have caused a racket internationally and locally as some have come out stating that the regulations impede on their health, legal, ethical and technological rights. Others view the new port of entry laws as indirectly forcing everyone to vaccinate. 

A prospective Botswana tourist went onto social media commenting that, “we were planning another two-week holiday to Chobe but decided to rather spend our money in South Africa. We will not be dictated by the Botswana government.”  Another added; “Just heard the news. Will not allow my children to get vaccinated for a holiday. Good bye to almost three week Botswana winter vacation.” 

Effective February 14th 2022, in the name of purposes of reducing the risk of imported Covid 19 cases into the country. The new changes include; that all persons entering Botswana should show proof that they have been fully vaccinated. 

Fully vaccinated means having taken two doses of a two-dose vaccine regimen or single dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. If one has taken any of the two and is overdue for booster shots, they are no longer regarded as fully vaccinated, until they have taken the booster shot.

Adding that; when a person is not fully vaccinated, they will be required to present a 72-hour negative PCR COVID-19 test result and undergo COVID-19 vaccination at the port of entry, which will be facilitated by the ministry for free.  After vaccination, they will be allowed into the country. True to their word, South African musician, Makhadzi received her vaccination at the border before addressing the press with regard to a show she is to host.

The government Gazette continues that; “Alternatively, if one has no proof of being fully vaccinated and has no 72 hour negative PCR test result, they will be required to undergo PCR testing at ports of entry, at their own cost and where necessary quarantine at own cost, while waiting for results. If results are negative they will be allowed into the country.

If results are positive, they will be allowed to isolate within the district of port of entry, at own cost. If one has no proof of being fully vaccinated, is not willing to be vaccinated at the port of entry, has no 72 hour negative PCR test result and is not willing to be tested at own cost, they will not be allowed entry into Botswana, if they are foreigners. If they are citizens, they will be liable to a fine of P5 000.00 or imprisonment not exceeding one year or both.”

In short, proof of being fully vaccinated is now the most important requirement for entry into Botswana. While Botswana is on a mission of giving access into the country to the vaccinated only, The tenth meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) regarding COVID-19 pandemic took place on Thursday 13 January 2022. 

The take aways from the meeting on WHO’s position on the matter are; “At the present time, it is WHO’s position that national authorities and conveyance operators should not introduce requirements of proof of COVID-19 vaccination for international travel as a condition for departure or entry, given that there are still critical unknowns regarding the efficacy of vaccination in reducing transmission.

In addition, considering that there is limited availability of vaccines, preferential vaccination of travellers could result in inadequate supplies of vaccines for priority populations considered at high risk of severe COVID-19 disease. WHO also recommends that people who are vaccinated should not be exempt from complying with other travel risk-reduction measures.” 

WHO goes on that in the current context, introducing a requirement of vaccination as a condition for travel has the potential to hinder equitable global access to a limited vaccine supply and would be unlikely to maximize the benefits of vaccination for individual societies and overall global health.  

“While individual, economic and social benefits could potentially be promoted through such a policy, these benefits also have to be balanced against the risk to public health based on current scientific knowledge, including critical unknowns about the risks mitigated by vaccination,” said WHO.  

WHO also advises on another ethical consideration, equity in the general distribution of benefits and burdens. In the context of unequal vaccine distribution, individuals who do not have access to an authorized COVID-19 vaccine would be unfairly impeded in their freedom of movement if proof of vaccination status became a condition for entry to or exit from a country.  

National authorities should choose public health interventions that least infringe on individual freedom of movement, WHO says. On 14 January 2021, the COVID-19 IHR Emergency Committee regarding the COVID-19 pandemic advised that it is premature for countries to require proof of vaccination for international travellers. 

Subsequently, the WHO Director-General, in the context of the public health emergency of international concern related to COVID-19 pandemic, issued the following Temporary Recommendation for countries: “At the present time, countries should not introduce requirements of proof of vaccination or immunity for international travel as a condition of entry as there are still critical unknowns regarding the efficacy of vaccination in reducing transmission and limited availability of vaccines.”

Should the requirement of proof of COVID-19 vaccination for international travellers be introduced in future in accordance with IHR provisions, vaccines must be approved by WHO, and be of suitable quality and universally available, for the protection of all people from international spread of disease.  Currently, yellow fever is the only disease mentioned in the IHR for which countries can require proof of vaccination for international travellers.

Meanwhile, the Botswana Network on Law HIV AIDS has said in light of the new requirements, “it is recommended that the instrument be revoked. This is due to the fact that as raised above, the Covid-19 PCR test is the strongest means to detect whether an individual has the virus or not, which is the best way to prevent the introduction of the virus into Botswana. Conversely, though one may be fully vaccinated, this does not mean that the individual is not a carrier of Covid-19.

In this way, a fully vaccinated individual may bring the virus into the country unknowingly due to the fact they would not have tested for Covid-19. Returning to the status quo would be the least intrusive means of preventing the introduction of the Covid-19 virus and would be the most reasonable restriction to the right to movement, allowing individuals to retain their autonomy to make their decision in relation to the vaccine, bearing in mind possible underlying health conditions”.

Continue Reading

News

Why Katholo engaged private lawyers against State

16th May 2022
Katlholo

The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katholo has revealed why he took a decision to engage private lawyers against the State. The DCEC boss engaged Monthe and Marumo Attorneys in his application to interdict the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) from accessing files and dockets in the custody of the corruption busting agency.

In his affidavit, Katholo says that by virtue of my appointment as the Director General of the DCEC, he is obliged to defend the administration and operational activities of the DCEC. He added that, “I have however been advised about a provision in the State Proceedings Act which grants the authority of public institution to undertake legal proceedings to the Attorney General.” Katholo contends that the provision is not absolute and the High Court may in the exercise of its original jurisdiction permit such, like in this circumstance authorise such proceedings to be instituted by the DCEC or its Director General.

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

Continue Reading

News

Dada to break Kwelagobe’s BDP long standing record

16th May 2022
Dada

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has gone through transformation over the years, with new faces coming and going, but some figures have become part and parcel of the furniture at Tsholetsa House. From founding in 1962, BDP has seen five leaders changing the baton during the party’s 60 years of existence. The party has successfully contested 12 general elections, albeit the outcome of the last polls were disputed in court.

While party splits were not synonymous with the BDP for the better part of its existence, the party suffered two splits in the last 12 years; the first in 2010 when a Barataphathi faction broke ranks to found the now defunct Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). The Barataphathi faction was in the main protesting the ill-treatment of then recently elected party secretary general, Gomolemo Motswaledi, who had been suspended ostensibly for challenging the authority of then president, Ian Khama.

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

Continue Reading

News

The Gulaam Husain Abdoola – Dubai sting detailed

16th May 2022
Gulaam Husain Abdoola

Mr Abdoola has known Mr. Uzair Razi for many years from the time he was a young boy. Uzair’s father, Mr Razi Ahmed, was the head of BCCI Bank in Botswana and “a very good man,” his close associates say.

Uzair and his wife went to settle in Dubai, the latter’s birthplace. He stayed in touch and was working for a real estate company owned by Mr. Sameer Lakhani. “Our understanding is that Uzair approached Mr. Abdoola to utilize their services for any property-related interests in Dubai. He did some work for Mr.Abdoola and others in the Botswana business community,” narrates a friend of Mr Abdoola.

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

 

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!