Namibia: Stay Home, Save Lives... Government Urges Public to Respect Virus Lockdown

27 March 2020

Kuzeeko Tjitemisa &

Paheja Siririka

The authorities yesterday once again reminded residents of affected towns in Erongo as well as Windhoek, Okahandja and Rehoboth to strictly adhere to the lockdown rules as government intensifies the fight against the Covid-19 outbreak. Government has come up with strict measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, including imposing a 21-day lockdown, which begins tomorrow. "We are in a difficult and critical time and the pandemic is a reality. Lockdown does not mean that we have holidays now like some people who are preparing to go to their farms and villages," deputy health minister Esther Muinjangue said yesterday. "Avoiding crowds is not only applicable to cities but everywhere including villages.

We all have a role to play in the prevention of this virus. It is not only a responsibility of the health sector. It is my responsibility, your responsibility, and everybody's responsibility. Hence, adhere to the preventative measures put in place by the head of state as well as the health ministry. We should learn from other countries. Coronavirus is real." The authorities have assured affected citizens that shops offering essential services would remain open during the lockdown. Former health minister Dr Bernard Haufiku, who is heading the Covid-19 task force, yesterday also clarified retailers, hotels and restaurants were all classified as essential services during the current state of emergency and cannot close down.

70 quarantined

Meanwhile, government yesterday quarantined 70 Namibians at two Windhoek lodges following the group's arrival from Upington and Cape Town in South Africa. The group also includes several locals who were picked up along the way in Keetmanshoop and Mariental. The group will now be quarantined for 14 days at two local lodges, Haufiku told New Era. "I was called to come and assess the two vehicles and that is where it was decided that the passengers onboard would be taken to two lodges where they will be screened and quarantined for the next two weeks," he said. "The bus from Upington had 16 passengers while the one from Cape Town had 54 passengers," said Rudi Delie, the area manager of Intercape's Windhoek branch. He further stated that passengers who were picked up in Mariental and Keetmanshoop randomly hopped on either of the buses. "The buses had a mixture of passengers and all we know now is they are all Namibians, and they were taken to those lodges for screening and quarantine and for the buses to be sprayed and disinfected," said Delie. South Africa is one of the most affected countries on the continent with 709 confirmed cases of coronavirus. There appears to be confusion on various measures being implemented by government with regards to the coronavirus outbreak. On Thursday, close to 150 passengers, who had arrived in the country from South Africa via the Hosea Kutako International Airport were allowed to proceed to their respective homes and advised to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Relief measures

The economic cluster of government under the chairmanship of finance minister Ipumbu Shiimi was until late yesterday discussing critical strategies to assist Namibians and businesses to cushion the Covid-19 impact. The Bank of Namibia yesterday also announced that it has introduced a number of policy relief measures including allowing options for payment holidays at local commercial banks to help customers cope with the impact of Covid-19. "In respect to customers of banking institutions, banks can grant loan payment moratorium or so-called payment holidays whereby the holiday in respect of loan payment (which include principal and interest) is allowed for a period ranging from six months up to 24 months based on a thorough assessment of economic and financial difficulties experienced by individual borrowers. Banking institutions should apply such holidays in a transparent, fair and equitable manner," deputy governor Ebson Uanguta said in a statement. The central bank also assures that it has put in place liquidity relief measures. "The bank has decided to relax the Determination on Liquidity Risk Management whereby banking institutions are required to ensure that their cash inflows match the cash outflows expected within the 0-7 days. The limit has been relaxed such that the expected outflows may exceed the inflows, but not more than excess liquidity above their regulatory limit."

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