Namibia: Obey Rules or Risk Another Lockdown... As More Inmates, Pupils Test Positive

22 September 2020

Justice minister Yvonne Dausab has expressed disappointment over the public's non-compliance with Covid-19 rules following the lifting of the state of emergency, warning the nation could face another lockdown if citizens continue to defy health protocols.

She warned tighter lockdown measures could be re-imposed across the country if the public fail to adhere to current restrictions.

Dausab' s warning follows last week Thursday's lifting of the state of emergency by President Hage Geingob after it was declared in March to stem the tide of local Covid-19 cases. The pandemic has so far claimed over 900 000 lives across the globe and 113 in Namibia.

Speaking to New Era yesterday, Dausab said that since the lifting of the state of emergency, she noticed that many people have forgotten the virus is still prevalent.

She cautioned Covid-19 will still be prevalent for much longer, particularly because it is transmitted through the movement and interaction of people who do not take the necessary precautions. She added that it is quite unfortunate that Namibians are not maintaining the protocols that will combat, prevent and control the further spread of the virus.

"We are showing that we cannot fight it without self-discipline and this may require government to rethink its approach and make adjustments to its decision to ensure the greater population's health is protected," she said, adding that citizens must continue to wear masks when in public, maintain at least one-metre distance from others, sanitise and significantly reduce gatherings or being in crowded places.

"We have a responsibility to protect each other and act in a manner that will have us return to some kind of normality to boost our economy and restore enhanced social activity. Anything that does not look at the bigger picture and the greater impact is selfish," she added.

Geingob last week also warned that the possibility of a second wave of infections remains very real, noting this is a risk the nation must manage proactively. "We are not out of the woods yet and not by a long shot. Now is the time to exercise maximum personal responsibility and vigilance," Geingob said in his address to the nation.

New cases

Meanwhile, a further 10 learners at the Nehale Secondary School in the Oshikoto region have tested positive for Covid-19, regional education director Aletta Eises confirmed yesterday.

Eises said more tests are still being conducted at the school.

In addition to the learners, 19 inmates from the Eenhana police holding cells have also tested positive for the virus.

The 29 are part of the 149 cases announced by health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula yesterday.

Ohangwena police commander, Commissioner Elizabeth Sibolile could not be reached for comment, but New Era has it on good authority that the cases are from the police holding cells.

The minister in his speech said classes at Nehale were suspended to allow the school premises to be disinfected.

He further related that psychosocial support was given to both the learners and the staff.

In the meantime, the positive cases have been placed in isolation and the contacts have been placed in quarantine for further observation.

"The classes will resume once all public health measures have been completed. We wish to assure the nation that the situation at that particular school does not warrant alarm," said Shangula.

The minister also expressed dismay on public conduct following the lapsing of the state of emergency on Friday.

"I am disappointed to observe that after the state of emergency lapsed, the public started to behave as if Covid-19 is no more," Shangula said.

Despite the lapse of the state of emergency, Shangula said Covid-19 is currently being controlled and managed under the Public and Environmental Health Act of 2015.

He added that the Act makes provision for severe sanction for non-compliance with public health measures against infectious disease.

"This Act is already operational. We will however, continue to urge the public to voluntarily comply with the stipulated public health measures in the interest of the broader Namibian public," Shangula said sternly.

Of the cases reported yesterday, Windhoek recorded the highest number with 75 cases.

In Erongo region, Swakopmund recorded 10, Usakos nine, Walvis Bay five and Omaruru one.

In Ohangwena region, 20 cases were recorded in Eenhana, while 12 cases were recorded in Oshikoto.

Of the 12 cases in Oshikoto, 10 are from Onandjokwe while two are from Tsumeb.

Otjozondjupa recorded seven cases at Otjiwarongo and one in Okahandja.

Oshakati and Rundu each recorded three cases while Gobabis, Katima Mulilo and Opuwo each recorded one case.

Sadly, the country also recorded one more death of Covid-19 in Windhoek bringing the total deaths to 113.

The deceased is a 69-year-old female with known multiple comorbidities.

She presented herself at a local health facility on 26 August 2020 with symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

"The patient was admitted in a severe condition and swabbed for Covid-19. Her condition deteriorated and she passed on the 19th of September 2020. We express our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families," said Shangula.

On much a lighter note, the country also recorded 79 new recoveries.

So far, the country has 2 301 active cases of the cumulative confirmed number of 10 526.

ktjitemisa@nepc.com.na

nashipala@nepc.com.na

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