Botswana President isolated after testing positive for COVID-19

GABORONE, Jan. 3 (Reuters) – Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi is in compulsory self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 in routine testing, a government spokesperson said on Monday.

“The president is symptom-free and will continue to have close medical surveillance by his doctors,” John-Thomas Dipowe, acting permanent secretary for government communications, said in a statement.

Vice President Slumber Tsogwane will assume the responsibilities of the President until further notice while Masisi is in isolation, Dipowe said.

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New coronavirus infections have risen sharply in the diamond-rich southern African country since the detection of the Omicron variant at the end of last year, to an average of 2,500 every three days, down from less than 300 in during the same period before Omicron.

But health officials say hospitalizations have not increased.

Botswana has succeeded in fully immunizing 71% of its eligible population of around 1.3 million people.

Health officials said on December 29 that Botswana would start giving booster doses as the age limit for vaccination was reduced to 12 years from 18.

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Reporting by Brian Benza; Editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Gareth Jones

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