Namibia Yet to Detect Indian Covid-19 Variant

President Hage Geingob presenting latest Covid-19 guidelines during press briefing (file photo).

The Namibian authorities have confirmed it is investigating whether a Covid-19 variant originating from India is present in the country. Health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe announced the new developments yesterday.

"The ministry of health is also concerned about new variants which have initially been identified in India (B.1.617) and have been reported to be circulating in other parts of the world," he said in a statement. "Through genome sequencing, we are currently monitoring if these variants are present in Namibia." Countries such as neighbours South Africa and Botswana have recorded cases of the Indian variant, while confirmed cases have also been detected in Asia and some parts of Europe.

Two Covid-19 variants have already been confirmed in the country (Namibia). They are the (B.1.351) from South Africa and United Kingdom's (B.1.1.7). Nangombe further indicated the ministry was highly concerned about more severe Covid-19 cases reported in the country.

The high number of hospitalisations and deaths is also a cause of great concern to the ministry. "Increased hospitalisation has exerted pressure on the available capacity of intensive care treatment, both in public and private sectors.

The observed lax compliance with the Covid-19 public health regulations in all parts of the country is also a concern." The Ministry of Health and Social Services strongly cautions all members of the public to strictly comply with all Covid-19 public health regulations in order to supress and prevent the further spread of Covid-19, he said.

"Families and attendants are encouraged to fully comply with the standards operating procedures (SOP) on Covid-19 burials. All community, traditional and religious leaders as well as law enforcement agencies are called upon to support all efforts aimed at promoting compliance with the public health regulations." Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula yesterday also pleaded with Namibians to protect themselves and others against Covid-19 even after they have been vaccinated against the virus. Shangula also added the Indian variant was not yet detected in the country.

"However, all variants are bad news, including those already circulating in Namibia. We were prepared and managed well both the first and second waves. We will do the same with any potential future waves. We have currently enough vaccines in the country for our vaccination campaign. We expect another consignment in May this year," he said.

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