GABORONE, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Botswana has reverted to stringent travel restrictions across the zonal boundaries as positive COVID-19 cases are on the rise.
Those who travel within the country ahead of the Independence Day holiday slated for next week will need to apply for permits, which will be issued at the discretion of the COVID-19 Presidential Task Force, Malaki Tshipayagae, director of Health Services, said on Friday.
"As per existing regulations under State of Emergency (SOE), movement permits across zones will no longer be automatically approved. Permits will only be approved manually after review for essential workers only," said Tshipayagae.
He said the decision was prompted by the rising number of cases and a potential surge in light of the upcoming holiday.
"The nation is urged to observe COVID-19 protocols of social distancing, hand hygiene and wearing of face masks all the time," Tshipayagae said.
Botswana's COVID-19 situation has deteriorated in recent weeks with a spike in the number of confirmed cases.
Tshipayagae said that as of Sept. 20, Botswana had recorded a total of 2,921 COVID-19 cases and 16 related deaths.
"Of the total number of cases recorded, 1,730 were locally transmitted cases," he said, adding that a total of 113 cases and one death were recorded from April 1 to July 22.
All current active permits are therefore cancelled with immediate effect and those who require permits can re-apply online.
Meanwhile, Tshipayagae said that gatherings are still limited to two persons, except gatherings such as funerals, cultural and sports events, where 50 persons at most are allowed.