Namibia: Covid-19 Response Press Conference with President Hage Geingob

Namibian President Hage Geingob presenting latest statement on COVID-19 restrictions.

Windhoek — President Hage Geingob is updating the country about the Covid-19 situation in Namibia. He says Namibia has seen a rapid increase in Covid-19 cases, with infections now numbering 63.

He says most of the cases originate from the Erongo region. The health ministry has mobilised resources to investigate possible community transmissions in that region, the president says.He also says the lockdown of Erongo is lapsing tonight, while the rest of the country is moving to stage 4 of the coronavirus pandemic restrictions next week Monday.

Geingob says despite an increase in Covid-19 cases in Erongo, the region will move to stage 3 until 6 July. Travel between towns in Erongo will be permitted with the exception of Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis.

Travelling from Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Arandis would only be allowed on an emergency basis.

Geingob added that essential workers and lorry drivers would be allowed to travel out of these three towns if they have a travel permit.

Geingob adds that public gatherings are limited to 50 people, except at Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Arandis, where gatherings are limited to only 10 people. Vulnerable people would be permitted to work from home in Erongo, subject to approval by employers.

The president says it has been a complex decision to safeguard lives and boost the economy of Erongo. He says Namibia has added stage 5, to address points of entry and allow for air travel.

Namibia will migrate from stage 3 to 4 on 30 June, with relaxed regulations for 10 days, but borders remain closed. However, the government is setting up a tourism strategy to allow a minimum number of tourists in the country to boost that industry, which employs about 300 000 people.

Returning Namibians and permanent residents will now be expected to quarantine at own costs.

The resumption of pre-primary schooling will only kick off on 6 July, with the relevant ministry expected to set up new guidelines.

Geingob says in stage 4, measures have been relaxed to allow for social and economic activity to resume. He stresses that wearing a mask and practising social distancing will assist in fighting Covid-19.

By the end of Monday (22 June), 13 regions will transition to stage 4 until 17 September with the exception of Erongo region, which will transition to stage 3 today, for a period of 14 days, health minister Kalumbi Shangula said at State House this afternoon.

He said health protocols need to be adhered to once the regulations are relaxed in stage 4,  which means social distancing needs to be practiced consistently and the wearing of masks remains mandatory.

The minister further said those with Covid-19 symptoms should refrain from public areas and report symptoms to health authorities.

He further stressed the need for public service providers to keep a register at all times.

He said the points of entry remain closed unless it’s for essential service providers.

“Members of the public should strictly adhere to the health regulations,” he stressed.

As of 30 June, all Namibians should quarantine at own cost but under government supervision. Those who are unable to quarantine at own cost, according to Shangula, can apply for government assistance.

From 15 July, Namibia will accommodate a number of tourists, from carefully selected countries.

The sale of alcohol has now been allowed to start from 09h00 to 18h00 but on a takeaway basis.Casinos and gambling houses will open to clients who have made reservations, the health minister said.

Sporting events and activities are permitted to resume, including contact sports subject to 250 persons and adherence to health protocols.

Night clubs are also allowed to open but restricted to not more than 250 persons and following health protocols.

In the Erongo region, Grade 12 and 11 can resume, with the exception of Walvis Bay, Arandis and Swakopmund. The resumption would be considered after two weeks.

“The government will daily monitor the situation at Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis to address the situation accordingly,” Shangula added.

Justice minister Yvonne Dausab has urged the public to adhere to the health regulations as the 13 regions move to stage four of relaxed regulations.

“Stick to the 1 metre regulation and wear your masks,” she stressed.

Speaking at the State House this afternoon, she called for public service providers to keep registers but owners should ensure the safety of the people’s information.

Dausab added that the spreading of fake news, especially on extended lockdown, is a criminally, punishable offense.

“Members of the public should not stigmatise people from Walvis Bay and truck drivers, especially because of the situation we find ourselves in,” she noted.

Attorney general Festus Mbandeka says as regions move to the different stages, members of the public are expected to comply with the set regulations and need to properly assist the government to avoid moving to stage 1 or 2. He further appealed to the private sector to support the government in combating Covid-19.

“There is also an issue of permits with regards to Erongo. Moving out required people to register themselves. But now, only people with valid permits are allowed to move,” he said.

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