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Botswana president tests negative for COVID-19, exits quarantine

The southern African country's leader went into a 14-day self-quarantine on 21 March after a visit to neighbouring Namibia for an inauguration ceremony.

FILE: Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Masisi speaks after taking the oath as the 5th President at the National Assembly in Gaborone on 1 April 2018. Picture: AFP.

GABORONE - Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Wednesday was released from isolation at home after testing negative for coronavirus, the presidency said.

The southern African country's leader went into a 14-day self-quarantine on 21 March after a visit to neighbouring Namibia for an inauguration ceremony.

"The Office of the President wishes to inform the public that the Director of Health Services has released... (the) President of the Republic of Botswana from home quarantine with immediate effect," said a statement on Wednesday.

"This follows the release of his COVID-19 test results yesterday which came out negative."

Botswana has so far detected four cases of the novel coronavirus, one of which has died from the infection.

Masisi travelled to Namibia for the inauguration of President Hage Geingob earlier this month - breaching a ban on all external trips by public officers imposed by his own government to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Angola's President Joao Lourenco also attended the ceremony, despite having declared strict travel restrictions in their own countries.

Botswana's government has since announced stricter measures to fight the pandemic.

The country's 2.2 million inhabitants are expected to enter a 28-day period of "extreme social distancing" on Thursday.

Only people performing "essential services" or transporting "essential goods" will be allowed outside their homes during this time.

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