Namibia Records 105 Covid Deaths in Six Weeks

NAMIBIA has recorded 105 deaths in a space of six weeks following a spike in coronavirus cases.

Despite the high number of deaths, Namibia is still to reveal a vaccine rollout strategy.

On average, Namibia has been recording 18 deaths per week since the start of December last year. The death rate increased in the last six weeks compared to the 151 deaths recorded between March and November 2020.

Health and social services minister Kalumbi Shangula in December said there were 11 deaths due to Covid-19, between 9 and 15 December 2020. However, between 16 and 22 December 2020, there were 17 deaths, an increase of 55%.

Shangula yesterday told The Namibian the high death rate is a result of an increase in the number of cases the country is recording.

The country yesterday reported 536 new infections, with three new deaths. The number of confirmed cases stands at 28 259, with 24 292 recoveries and 254 deaths as of yesterday. The country's recovery rate currently stands at 86%.

"The number of deaths is proportional to the number of cases recorded. The more cases we are reporting, the more deaths we will record," the minister said.

He stressed that the reason for the high number of infections is that people are not adhering to the set health regulations.

"People go to weddings, parties, funerals and so forth without taking health precautions. Obviously, transmissions will increase," Shangula noted, adding that yesterday's cases were reported from 13 (93%) of the 14 regions in the country.

He said this is worrisome as the cases are widespread and sporadically distributed in different districts across the country.

"Erongo region is emerging as a new hotspot representing 21% of all confirmed cases closely followed by the Khomas region (19,4%). The current emergence of cases in the Erongo region and the rest of the country indicates an active community transmission following the end of the festive season," the minister noted.

The government has begun tests to determine whether the spike in Covid-19 cases is a result of the new variant detected in South Africa.

Shangula last week said the country is now conducting tests to determine whether the new variant (SARS-CoV-2 variant) with a higher rate of transmission is roaming locally.

VACCINE

The minister says Namibia is pinning its hopes on accessing a Covid-19 vaccine through the Covax facility. This is despite fears that the initiative is struggling to assist poor countries because wealthier countries are hoarding vaccines.

Shangula could, however, not indicate when Namibia should expect the vaccine. South Africa's health minister, Zweli Mkhize, last week expressed concern over the possibility of accessing a vaccine through the Covax facility due to competition, costs and available distribution networks.

South Africa has kicked off negotiations for the vaccine with the University of Oxford and the biotech firm AstraZeneca and Mkhize said his country will be receiving one million doses this month and 500 000 doses in February.

South Africa will prioritise the vaccination of its 1,25 million healthcare workers.

Shangula could not reveal Namibia's vaccination plan or when the country is set to receive its first batch.

"I will address the vaccine matter publicly," the minister stated.

The World Health Organisation head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus yesterday on Twitter called on vaccine manufacturers to use the Covax facility, which Namibia is attached to, to channel their doses through.

"I urge #Covid19 vaccine manufacturers to prioritise supply through Covax; countries that have contracts for more vaccines than they need should donate them to Covax immediately & stop making bilateral deals. Covax is ready. The time to deliver vaccines equitably is now," Ghebreyesus tweeted.

SOUTH AFRICA DEATHS

South Africa's Covid-19 death rate has also spiked after the discovery of the new strain of the novel coronavirus.

The country recorded the most infections on the continent, linking it to the new strain which may be more contagious. The country recorded 5 824 Covid-19 deaths in 12 days between 28 December 2020 and 9 January 2021 when Mkhize announced that the number of deaths stood at 32 824.

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