Windhoek — PRESIDENT Hage Geingob says Namibia has reported more novel coronavirus cases in July than any other month and August is projected to record more cases. The president said it took Namibia 11 days to reach 3 000 cases.
Speaking at State House, he said the government is monitoring the situation seeing that all 14 regions of the country now have confirmed cases. Geingob said decisions need to be taken but safe guarding people’s livelihoods is of utmost importance.
The president further expressed concern over the number of health care workers that have contracted the virus.
The president further urged Namibians to practise the set health guidelines, saying Namibia now has 3 406 confirmed cases with the death toll continuing to rise, and currently standing at 22.
Geingob stressed that Erongo region now has clustered Covid-19 transmission, and the government is setting up targeted response measures to mitigate the further spread of the virus.
He said the entire country has now been migrated to stage 3 of the state of emergency regulations and added that modalities for the plan will be worked out in the coming few days.
“These are not easy decisions to take but they had to be taken to suppress the spread of Covid-19 so as to protect the lives of Namibians,” he stressed.
Geingob added that if cluster transmissions are left unchecked, the situation would be catastrophic for the country.
He said Namibians should take health measures into cognisance to contain the spread of the coronavirus. He said mitigating the spread of the virus requires the effort of all Namibians, saying travelling and partying is not advisable because the times are abnormal.
“Why must we beg you? It is your own lives you are protecting. Please, I’m begging you and I’m pleading with you to avoid high risk places such as night clubs, churches and funerals. In Namibia we are seeing people dying,” he said.
Namibia will be in stage 3 exit plan for 16 days effective midnight Wednesday.
Speaking at the same platform, health minister Kalumbi Shangula said the coronavirus cases in Namibia had increased exponentially over the past few weeks.
He said the virus does not move on its own but is spread by infected people who fail to adhere to regulations and spread the virus.
Shangula added that all 14 regions will revert or remain in stage 3 for 16 days, until 28 August. He said the new measures would also be approved by the Cabinet in the next few days.
Travel into and out of Windhoek and Okahandja – similar to Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis – is restricted with the exception of essential and critical service providers.
Alcohol will be sold from 12h00 to 18h00 daily with the exception of Sunday.
The minister also announced that Namibia will now have a curfew with people expected to be home at 20h00 to 05h00. He said public gatherings including weddings, funerals and church services are limited to 10 people.
The issuance of permits for the above is prohibited but would be made available for funerals of immediate family members. Those who want to travel for essential service provision would need to submit to mandatory quarantine.
Expanded targeted testing will be conducted in Windhoek, the minister said.
According to Shangula, restaurants would operate under stage two regulations, on a takeaway basis, for Windhoek and surrounding areas, Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis. He said Namibia is at a critical point and what is done now determines what the result would be for Namibia.
Also speaking at State House, justice minister Yvonne Dausab stressed that residents should adhere to the curfew and only critical and essential workers with permits will be allowed to leave their homes. She said between 20h00 and 05h00 all other residents should remain in their homes.
Dausab says the state of emergency is to ensure that the spread of the novel coronavirus is curbed. She said by not wearing a mask, one will be committing an offence and can be fined N$2 000 or six months’ imprisonment.
The minister said when people deliberately spread the virus, and the regulations do not prescribe any form of punishment, the government can use the criminal, common or civil law for damages.
She added that it could be assault but that would depend on the nature and cause of action arising.
In terms of the curfew, Dausab said the requirements may be similar to those of wearing a mask. She, however, said residents should take necessary steps to return home before 20h00. She stressed that prohibited public gatherings are social gatherings with the exception of workplace congregations. The justice minister added that institutions should however adhere to health regulations while ensuring that regular disinfection of premises is conducted.
She said vendors will be allowed to operate and, similar to retail shops being expected to keep a register of customers, vendors should ensure that social distancing, sanitising and wearing of masks are adhered to.
“We don’t want the congregation of people,” she said.
Attorney general Festus Mbendeka has advised residents in restricted areas, namely Windhoek, Okahandja and Rehoboth from engaging in unnecessary travels. He also called on Namibians to observe the new alcohol restrictions to avoid the situation getting worse. He said the best way is for Namibians to comply with restrictions under stage 3 exit plan.
“Assist and comply with the restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus,” he said.