Namibia: Shangula Warns Against Virus Vaccine 'Fake News'

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15 September 2020

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula yesterday cautioned the public to be wary against falling for "untruths and fake narratives" after a post suggested on social media that government was carrying out mandatory vaccination against the virulent pandemic.

Giving an update on Covid-19, Shangula said a certain narrative that is being circulated on social media, purporting that the health ministry is carrying out mandatory vaccination with the unspecified "injection" that he announced a few days ago is dangerous and must be rejected with utmost contempt.

"The medicine, remdesivir, which I informed the public about is used for the treatment of patients with Covid-19 as I have indicated earlier and as it was clearly explained during the panel discussion by health experts,"

Shangula said, further reiterating remdesivir was not a vaccine.

The first batch of the antiviral drug, remdesivir, which has been globally touted as making a difference in the management of severe Covid-19 cases, arrived in the country last month.

The drug was first issued by the United States Food and Drug Administration in May after a study showed it shortened recovery time in Covid-19 patients.

"Despite the presence of Covid-19, the ministry is carrying out normal programmes and activities of the ministry."

He added one of such activities is the Periodic Intensification of Routine Immunisation (PIRI), which embodies Maternal and Child Health (MCH) and the African Vaccination Week. He said the two immunisation weeks have since been internalised and implemented every year and form part of the ministerial events calendar.

The main aim of the Periodic Intensification Routine Immunisation, Shangula said, is to increase utilisation of quality mother and child health interventions, that is family planning, maternal, neonatal, and child health services; improve nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene practices.

"The focus of the events has been to screen and vaccinate children and women of child-bearing age that were missed through routine services as guided by routine immunisation data," he stressed.

Shangula added other maternal and child health interventions, namely Vitamin A supplements, de-worming, nutritional assessment, counselling and condom distribution were added to the package.

"The audio seeks to instill fear in the public and to dissuade the Namibians to uptake these health services. I call on the public to maintain their faith in the government that is working tirelessly to ensure that their health and wellbeing are safeguarded," he said.

The health minister also called on the individuals to desist from making and circulating such misguided information that has the potential to cause fear and despondency in the public and not to expose themselves to criminal proceedings as such activities are criminal offences.

Under the current Covid-19 state of emergency, publishing any false or misleading statement, including on social media, could lead to a fine of N$2 000 or a prison term of up to six months.

Cases

Meanwhile, Shangula yesterday announced 99 new cases of Covid-19, 150 recoveries and two deaths related to the pandemic. Confirmed cases in the country now stand at 9 818, while recoveries shoot up to 6 693 and 3 022 active cases. Sadly, the country has reported a total of 103 deaths to the pandemic.

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