Namibia: Over 40 Cases Undergo Covid-19 Test

31 March 2020

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula yesterday said the State has so far only conducted about 40 Covid-19 tests, despite criticism that limited testing could leave cases undetected. "I don't have the exact number but I think we have so far tested just over 40 people for Covid-19," Shangula told New Era upon enquiry yesterday. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged countries to test as widely as possible to curb the spread of the pandemic, but Namibia has only been testing those who had travelled from affected countries, those who have come into contact with those who tested positive, or those who have shown symptoms of Covid-19 after two weeks of quarantine.

Namibia currently has 11 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with the latest three reported on Saturday. The three new cases are regarded as cases nine, 10 and 11: case nine involves a 35-year-old Namibian woman who lives in South Africa but came to Namibia on 20 March.

According to health officials, a sample was taken from the women and sent to South Africa for testing on 25 March. On Friday, the result came back positive. Health officials said arrangements have been made to admit her in an isolation facility.

"Case number 10 is a 33-year-old Namibian female who travelled to Dubai, Ethiopia and Johannesburg. She arrived on 17 March 2020 in Namibia and visited a health facility on 26 March 2020. Specimens were taken and sent to the Namibia Institute of Pathology (NIP). The results came out as positive," stated the health ministry. According to the health ministry, case 11 is a 69-year-old Namibian man who travelled to Johannesburg and came back on 12 March.

He visited a health facility on 25 March; a specimen was sent to the NIP on 27 March 2020 and the result came out as positive on Saturday.

"The MoHSS-led response is actively following up with all contacts of these persons to ensure proper quarantine and monitoring for symptoms," the statement elaborated.

The country is currently on partial lockdown, which includes Khomas (Okahandja and Rehoboth) and Erongo regions, with a set of state of emergency regulations in place that apply to the entire country.

The 21-day lockdown came into effect at the end of Friday after President Geingob declared a countrywide state of emergency in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will continue until 17 April. Shangula yesterday shot down claims the country has a shortage of testing kits, saying there are currently 500 testing kits in stock, while another 5 000 are expected.

Meanwhile, National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) secretary general Josef Kauandenge in a statement yesterday applauded current government efforts to contain the spread of the global pandemic.

"While applauding government and urging all Namibians to observe the state of emergency and to stay home, we are equally perplexed as to how government missed to address the issue of those impoverished Namibians who survive on handouts and who cannot, in all practical purposes, stay home for 21 days without food," expressed Kauandenge.

"We strongly believe that people like streets kids and those in informal settlements, who cannot fend for themselves, must be given some sort of assistance by the government in this difficult time," he added.

Kauandenge says it is irrational for one to expect a person to sit at home on an empty stomach and kids looking at him/her without anything to do. "Our most vulnerable members of our society are exposing themselves to the danger of Covid-19 because they cannot stay indoors for a whole day, as they have to run around looking for food," he said.

"This lockdown will only be effective to those in affluent suburbs but as we have seen, it is a nightmare to implement it in most informal settlements; hence, there is a dire need for government to intervene and give food rations to people at their homes in order to keep them at home," Kauandenge said.

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