June 12, 2020 / 8:28 PM / 22 days ago

Botswana reinstates strict coronavirus lockdown in capital city

GABORONE (Reuters) - Botswana brought back a strict coronavirus lockdown in its capital city, Gaborone, and surrounding areas after the southern African country recorded 12 new cases of the virus, a senior health official said late on Friday.

Diamond-rich Botswana ended a 48-day national coronavirus lockdown late last month, allowing businesses and schools to reopen under controls, but its borders are still closed apart from for returning citizens and imports of essential goods.

But Malaki Tshipayagae, the country’s director of health services, said in a televised announcement that officials had recorded four new imported cases at its borders and eight at a private hospital in Gaborone, bringing cumulative cases to 60.

“We are still to determine whether the hospital cases are local transmissions,” Tshipayagae said. “From midnight today the greater Gaborone area will revert to extreme social distancing until further notice, where only essential services will be allowed to operate.”

Before the new cases were announced, Botswana only had one active case of the coronavirus. It has recorded only one coronavirus death.

But the economy has been severely hurt, with real gross domestic product seen contracting 13% this year while the budget deficit could more than double.

Reporting by Brian Benza; Editing by Alexander Winning and David Gregorio

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