Rustenburg- Botswana will be under a state of emergency for six months in an attempt to curtail the spread of Covid-19, the country's parliament announced on Thursday.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi approached parliament to canvass a resolution for the southern African country to be placed under a state of emergency after he declared a public state of emergency for 28 days.
Opposition parties wanted the state of emergency to last for 21 days and be extended for another 21 days as necessary, or at worst three months.
Vice-president Slumber Tsogwane said the declaration of a state of public emergency in Botswana was necessary for taking appropriate and stringent measures to address the risks posed by Covid-19.
Presenting a motion on the endorsement of the state of public emergency, Tsogwane said Botswana was grappling with the rising number of confirmed cases.
In a televised media briefing on Tuesday, Masisi said the state of emergency may not last six months, as he was prepared to lift it once he was informed that the country was able to control the spread of the disease.
"The state of emergency may not need to last six months and I hope it does not, because state of emergencies are disruptive by their own nature," he said.
Botswana has recorded seven new Covid-19 cases in the space of two days, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 12, with one death.
Members of parliament have been placed in quarantine for 14 days after the director of health services, Dr Malaki Tshipayagae, ordered that they be placed in mandatory quarantine.
This comes after a nurse who conducted screenings at parliament on Wednesday tested positive for Covid-19. The nurse was one of the seven new cases.
The nurse works at a clinic in Block 8, and all workers at that clinic were tested for Covid-19. The results became known on Wednesday night after the nurse had conducted a screening of a member of parliament.
Health Minister Lemogang Kwape announced on Thursday that seven new cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed.
Kwape said the new cases included a 50-year-old policeman who travelled to England in February. Another case is a 37-year-old woman and her husband, who are both in quarantine.
The others are a 28-year-old man, a 34-year-old man who travelled to the United Kingdom (UK), and a 53-year-old man who travelled to Pretoria in South Africa.
The novel coronavirus was first recorded in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It rapidly spread to other parts of the world and to date there are more than 1.5 million confirmed cases worldwide, with more than 88,000 deaths and over 330,000 recoveries.
- African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Yaron Blecher