As the ministry of Basic Education and Skills Development prepares to reopen schools after covid-19 lockdown, North West District (NWD) finds itself facing a potentially harmful bat plague.
The Ministry of Education has revealed that all its 40 schools in Maun have been infested with bats which are likely to compromise the health of learners, teachers and their families.
Senior assistant council secretary at Maun Administration Authority, Mogomotsi Seemule has confirmed that the bats have been living in school ceilings and many government houses for some time now.
“The bats are everywhere. We fight them and they fight back at us,” she explained.
Seemule was responding to media questions during COVID-19 media briefing in Maun on Wednesday.
The question was raised as it has been discovered that in Maun area, especially at Sekgoma primary school and many other schools, bats were an eyesore and a health hazard. Many teachers in schools are said to have been attacked by eye problems and failing to stay in class due to strong stench from bat urine that is often seen flowing down classroom walls. Some of the teachers are said to have gone half blind because of the bats, which apparantly cause blindness.
Notheless, Seemule stated that the council was losing the battle against bats because doing so will compromise people’s health even further, “We are failing to kill them because chemicals used to kill bats are toxic and can kill people as well.”
Explaining the high numbers of bats in the district, Seemule explained that, they could have come from big caves in the area, including the Xhwihaba.
Meanwhile the council is preparing schools for reopening at the end of lockdown period, which is yet to be announced. Hand wash points and toilets blocks are being constructed in schools among other precationery measures being put in place as per the COVID-19 regulations.
The council is expected to spend over P45 million to implement these projects in all 79 primary schools in the North West, which include six satelite schools, three boarding schools in rural areas and one school for the deaf.
Each subdistrict has already been given P5 million to kickstart the project. However Seemule maintains that with that kind of money, it will not be easy for the council to get rid of the bats because they hibernate in the ceiling and therefore the exercise will require the removal and replacement of the ceilings, which will be too costly for the council.
Bats are known to be carriers of zoonotic diseases including the corona virus, which has so far killed close to 300 000 people the world over in the last few months. Scientists have said with certainty that COVID-19 is caused by a zoonotic, virus which is suspected to have been spread to humans through bats and snakes.
Although bats rarely get sick from these viruses, they are known to be carriers of viruses that can cause Ebola and rabies in people and other animals.
In fact early this year, there was an outbreak of rabbies in the same district, which was initially spotted on dogs and goats. However, the veterinary officials maintained that the virus could have come from wild animals who shared water sources with domestic animals during the just ended dry period of 2018/2019.