Botswana is placing all Members of Parliament who attended a special sitting on Wednesday under quarantine.
The sitting was convened by President Mokgweetsi Masisi for MPs to approve his request for a six-month state of public emergency to fight the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday Lemogang Kwape, the country’s health and wellness minister, announced that all MPs who were present would have to be placed under quarantine after “a nurse working at the block 8 clinic, who was present at the sitting, had tested positive for Covid-19”.
This led to Malaki Tshipayagae, Botswana’s director of public health, to order that everyone who attended the sitting be quarantined and tested for Covid-19.
The meeting was adjourned on Wednesday until Thursday at 9am.
It was adjourned after Dumelang Saleshando, the leader of the opposition, submitted that his party, the Umbrella for Democratic Change, did not agree with Masisi’s request for a six-month lockdown.
Saleshando suggested that the state of emergency period be limited to 28 days.
Saleshando argued that the Public Health Act was still relevant and could be used to contain the spread of the pandemic.
He could, using the Public Health Act, put in place initial measures to curb the spread and transmission of the virus through social distancing. He said a lengthy lockdown could cripple the country.
Saleshando suggested that the government should amend the act if it was too restrictive and gave the president the power to single-handedly rule the nation without the input of other arms of government.
Parliament, however, rejected Saleshando’s proposal to amend the six-month period to 28 days.
The ruling Botswana Democratic Party MPs supported the president’s six-month request. Many of those in the opposition rejected the request.
Most of the ruling party MPs highlighted the fact that the country had only 100 ICU beds nationally and they would be needed for preventive measures.
The debate was meant to continue on Thursday, but delegates were told they would have to be quarantined and tested.