President Hage Geingob has strongly warned against irresponsible citizens, who could potentially spread Covid-19, by recklessly embarking on unnecessary travelling. The head of state made the impassioned appeal while updating the nation on new national Covid-19 response measures at State House yesterday.
Covid-19 cases in the country have surged over the last couple of days, with over 3 400 confirmed cases and 22 fatalities as at yesterday afternoon. Geingob said to suppress further spread of the disease as observed in recent weeks and after an in-depth study of the current situation, the government has decided to adjust its Covid-19 interventions by migrating the entire country to stage 3 of the Covid-19 state of emergency.
Geingob said the confirmation of clustered community transmissions is of great concern. Given the increasing number and distribution of cases across the country, he said, there is now what can be classified as clustered community transmission, which warrants an adjustment to the national level of response. The whole country as of midnight reverted to stage 3, while Windhoek, Rehoboth, Okahandja, Swakopmund, Arandis and Walvis Bay, have been placed under a curfew for 16 days. Geingob, who yesterday announced he had tested negative for the virus, warned the pandemic would be catastrophic for the country if left unchecked.
"It is not the government to police people. Why must you be told 'don't do this'? Why must the police tell you not to go drink and misbehave? It's our duty. Let's hold hands," Geingob said following social media reports this week that a number of confirmed cases were seen partying while waiting for their results. "Why try to escape to go and dance and go to parties? People are dying, why must we beg you? It is your life we are talking about. Nightclubs and churches are places where the disease is spreading. We are seeing in Namibia people are dying. We thought we are immune, but people are dying."
He said the government is aware that the economy is hurting and this is why they cannot afford to take these measures lightly. Therefore, he called on all citizens to play their part in the interest of their families, communities and the nation at large.
"Let us take personal responsibility to adhere to all measures for the good of our health, our economy and our future. None of us should do anything that will aid the spread of the virus in our country. The increasing numbers should remind us all that it is up to each and every one of us to make a difference," he pleaded. New cases in Windhoek have more than doubled over the past five days and are now outnumbering Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and the rest of the country, in terms of cases reported daily. The President yesterday also announced that so far, 60 healthcare workers have tested positive for Covid-19.
Geingob said there is a need to do everything necessary to ensure the adequate provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) for all frontline workers in the country. Responding to media enquiries, health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula said the ministry is at this stage not experiencing any shortages when it comes to PPEs across the country.
"We take daily stock of what we distribute to various facilities and where they are needed. We must understand that PPEs are just like having sugar and milk. They are consumables that you use and discard. All the time you have to replenish. We are not experiencing any shortages of PPEs in our health facilities," he said.
"Healthcare workers have a double risk of infection. They are members of the community just like you and me and infections can occur anytime. They are members of the health profession where they are working and interacting with members of the community without knowing the status of people they are treating."