The much feared coronavirus is on our shores. This virus is rapidly spreading in all other parts of the world, especially in Europe, which has now become the epicentre. With two confirmed cases in Namibia, many locals are anxious and worried if indeed our health systems have what it takes to confront this global challenge and help contain it.
As soon as two cases were confirmed at the weekend, the powers that be moved fast to come up with measures, including cancelling Independence Day celebrations and other public gatherings. However, the efforts made by President Hage Geingob and his administration in helping to contain this pandemic, have divided opinion and many are engaged in a blame game, while the virus devastatingly wreaks havoc. But Namibia must be commended for taking radical action to try and limit the spread of the disease. Now is not the time for a blame game, politicising or insults but for the nation to unite in preventing the further spread of the virus.
It was never about if the disease would arrive but when. Countries with more complicated systems have seen a rapid increase and deaths. Our neighbour South Africa has at the time of going to print yesterday reported already 51 confirmed cases.
More cases are swelling up in north Africa, especially in Egypt, Morocco and Algeria where some deaths have also been reported.
As a nation, we must avoid fuelling panic but at the same time be decisive with actions. That is why President Geingob's drastic steps on Saturday are commendable. Calling off independence celebrations and to divert the financial outlay to fighting the virus shows leadership!
At this point it does not help our situation if we go looking around for scapegoats. The virus is no longer at our doorstep, it has arrived in our country and all efforts should be channelled at coming up with a proper national response plan and rallying behind nurses, doctors and other essential staff who are on the frontline of this outbreak. We also expect the private sector to play a meaningful role and be actively part of all collective measures to protect the country from further infection.
Lastly, it is our sincere hope that the authorities will also come up with an effective communication plan in order to manage response efforts and emergencies. As United Nations chief António Guterres opined at the weekend, this is a time for prudence, not panic. Science, not stigma. Facts, not fear.