COVID19 corona virus has now been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as it continues to wreak havoc throughout the world. This situation requires total mobilisation, cooperation, selflessness and true leadership. We can make it as a nation if we are united and disciplined.
Aggressive measures need to be put in place to prevent the spread of the virus. Fortunately up to now there has not been any reported cases of the virus in the country. This however does not mean that there are no cases as the viruses could stay in the body for sometime before signs are exhibited. Our actions today will determine what will happen tomorrow. We can learn from the experience of those who did not take prompt action to deal with this scourge.
Due to limited Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and the already stretched health facilities and personnel, we need to be much more proactive in preparing ourselves for the virus. These two are among the determining factors of the death rate. We can not stop the spread of the virus, but we can manage it if we keep the rate of infection within the capacity of our health facilities. We should prepare an army of health professionals, including those that are unemployed for any eventuality.
As the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), we call upon the government to engage the political, business, workers, religious, sports and other leaders to come up with a common and harmonious strategy to deal with this situation.
There should be provision of free masks and gloves accompanied by sanitisation of public places. We should embark on immediate and extensive testing of our people for early detection and determination of the extent of the scourge.
Staying at home helps deal with control of infections but what about those who stay in crowded conditions at all times? Measures have to be put in place to protect our people, majority of whom are poor, in the event we have a total lockdown. They will be hard hit as they go home to empty pantries every evening, prompting them to go out every morning in search of something to eat.
We call upon the government to come up a coordinated and comprehensive economic stimulus to benefit SMMEs and workers, not leaving out the vulnerable groups like the disabled who have a history of being marginalised and excluded. An independent structure, totally not biased in favour of the politically connected big business, should be put in place to oversee and monitor the stimulus package.
All these efforts and many others would require the presence and supervision of the Head of State who unfortunately we are told is now on quarantine and not fully available to deal with the challenge we are facing. It is regrettable and very unfortunate that the President decided, at a time when he was needed most, to leave the country. He not only deserted the nation that looked up to him for shepherd ship, but broke the very rules he set for state officials, that there should be no international travel; thereby failing to lead by example. This has led the country to have a present but absent president. An apology for this indiscretion to the nation will be in order.
Lastly we call upon Batswana to take all the precautionary measures as advised.
*UDC Head of Communications