Namibia On Alert for Coronavirus

The ministry of health has set up surveillance since Friday to promptly detect, diagnose and contain the coronavirus, should it surface in Namibia.

The coronavirus was first detected in China's city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, on 1 January 2020 and it spread, affecting people in 20 out of the country's 23 provinces.

By 22 January 2020, China's confirmed cases stood at 473, with nine deaths recorded.

Namibia's move to protect the masses against the coronavirus is a response to the World Health Organisation's directive to strengthen prevention and control measures for 2019-nCOV, also known as coronavirus, that was issued last week.

Health minister Kalumbi Shangula yesterday said they had alerted the country's 14 regional health directorates on Friday. He said the alerts also had information on the disease as well as guidelines on case management and surveillance.

Shangula said all health facilities, both public and private, have been informed to strengthen case detection, diagnosis and management of all possible cases.

"Close monitoring of the situation, with intensified surveillance, is under way, especially at the main international ports of entry [borders] to ensure prompt case detection and response," said Shangula.

Erongo's regional health director, Anna Jonas, said they have received the alert and have since been putting the necessary measures in place while the Otjozondjupa region's health director, Gebhard Timotheus, said they meet today to effect the directives.

"All clinics will be informed to make sure to screen all suspects who have some of those symptoms," said Timotheus.

Omaheke region's health director, Jeremiah Shikulo, said they have already set up surveillance measures and are working on effecting instructions from the health ministry head office. The coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause common colds, mild respiratory illness in people and animals, such as camels, cats and bats.

The health ministry' statement further stated that the coronavirus has been linked to local markets in China where chickens, cats, marmots and other wild animals, as well as seafood, are sold. However, the markets have been closed since the outbreak on New Year's year for cleaning and disinfection.

The virus spreads from human to human through respiratory secretions such as sneezing and coughing.

Some of the general precautions that the public has been advised to take include the regular washing of hands with soap and water.

Covering of the mouth when coughing or sneezing and avoiding close contact with possibly infected persons.

Others include minimising public gatherings, thorough cooking of meat, poultry, seafood and eggs. People are encouraged to drink lots of fluids and to exercise and seek treatment if there is any suspicion of possible infections, especially for those who have travelled or been in contact with a person from China in the past 14 days.

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