Namibia: High-risk Walvis Bay Under Total Lockdown

Journalists question President Geingob and other Namibian officials during a media briefing on COVID-19 in Windhoek (screen shot).

Walvis Bay Urban constituency councillor Knowledge Ipinge yesterday welcomed President Hage Geingob’s decision to place the coastal town under tighter Covid-19 restrictions with immediate effect, saying it was a proactive and applaudable move by government.

Geingob yesterday announced Walvis Bay will revert to stage one lockdown, meaning individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as seeking medical care, food and medicine for seven days to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Schools will remain closed, while public gatherings should not exceed more than ten people.

Most of the workers will have to work from home, as only those offering essential services will be allowed to move around. “It shows that the lives of the people matter the most. We must just adhere to the regulations and minimise movement by all means,” Ipinge said yesterday.
“We need to minimise the possible spread to other towns and travelling might expose our relatives and others. These are factors one needs to consider before travelling.”

Authorities fear the town could become a hotspot of Covid-19 cases after a truck driver, who had skipped mandatory quarantine, tested positive last week. He is currently in isolation. Another man from Walvis Bay, with underlying medical conditions, is in the intensive care unit at the coastal town. The 63-year-old man tested positive for Covid-19 following a recent trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo to deliver salt and fish products via sea.

“This strict but necessary restriction on the movement of people is needed to ascertain the extent of the possible spread of the disease,” President Geingob announced yesterday at State House. He said the seven days would enable the public health sector to identify, trace and test those who have come into contact with the two confirmed cases.

On 30 April, the government announced the gradual reopening of social and economic activities under the state of emergency. This meant all 14 regions migrated from a full lockdown under stage one, which lasted 38 days to more reduced restrictions with strict precautionary measures under stage two.

“A relaxation in restrictions does not imply the disappearance of Covid-19 from our midst. On the contrary, reduced restrictions demand heightened personal vigilance and greater responsibility on individuals, communities and nine institutions, alike,” Geingob cautioned.
He urged the public to support government action by not becoming complacent, but by complying with the regulations and cooperating with authorities to safeguard the collective health of the nation. Geingob said he is aware the lockdowns are not easy to endure, as they infringe on people’s rights.

“But I am glad to note that as Namibians, we have adopted a selfless approach and understood that to win the war against this invisible enemy, we need to make sacrifices that go far and beyond the norm. Our efforts have not gone unnoticed and have garnered praise in the international media for our response to Covid-19, which has involved a collective response of many stakeholders – both governmental and non-governmental,” he noted.

To date, Namibia recorded 22 confirmed Covid-19 cases that have all been classified to be sporadic and travel-related. There has been, to this point, no incidence of community transmission. Moreover, Namibia has recorded no death as a result of Covid-19.
All confirmed cases are from three regions: Khomas, Erongo and //Kharas.  As of Wednesday, 3 201 tests have been performed countrywide. Currently, 529 people are in mandatory quarantine facilities.

Namibian Police community affairs commander for Erongo region Inspector Ileni Shapumba yesterday said an urgent meeting has been called to discuss whether immediate action is necessary to ensure no one leaves Walvis Bay.
– Additional reporting by Eveline de Klerk – anakale@nepc.com.na

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