CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - MAY 13: Trucks line the
Trucks line the the road outside a container yard in Cape Town on 13 May 2020. (Photo by Gallo Images/Nardus Engelbrecht)
  • The vast majority of Botswana's 522 diagnosed cases of infection with the novel coronavirus is among foreigners, the country's government says.
  • Of the 96 Botswana citizens who have tested positive so far, nearly half are truck drivers who transport essential goods from South Africa.
  • The country is using a "sentinel testing" system – and picking up a lot of cases at its borders.
  • Long-distance trucking is thought to have been key in the spread of HIV in South Africa.
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The most risky thing a citizen of Botswana can do during the coronavirus pandemic is drive a truck in South Africa, it seems.

As of mid-week Botswana had recorded 522 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2, Xinhua reported, after a record increase of 50 on Wednesday alone. (South Africa on Thursday announced it had found 13,172 new cases).

More than 80% of those infected people are foreigners.

Of the 96 known cases among citizens of Botswana, 44 – not far from half –  are truck drivers who had returned after trips to South Africa to collect essential goods.

Instead of mass community testing, Botswana has implemented a "sentinel testing" strategy, with a focus on points of transit, villages close to its borders, and points of entry.

As of Wednesday Botswana had tested 55,520 people for the novel coronavirus, for a case positivity rate of 0.94%.

That is compared to 324,221 known cases in South Africa, detected via 2.3 million tests, a positivity rate not far shy of 14%.

Long distance trucking was strongly associated with the spread of HIV in South Africa and through southern Africa, with the alarm raised by the mid-1990s, and studies persistently recommending interventions targeted at truck drivers and female sex workers along major routes.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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