Namibia: Hospitals Overwhelmed

(File photo).

THE Ministry of Health and Social Services has summoned reinforcement from other regions to assist Khomas and created more space as Windhoek hospitals continue being overwhelmed with admissions.

This comes at a time the government is facing a critical shortage of lifesaving oxygen at state hospitals due to the collapse of the oxygen generating systems at health facilities countrywide.

Health executive director Ben Nangombe told a press briefing yesterday that hospitals had increased beds and created space to accommodate more patients.

"In recent weeks we have increased the number of beds at the respiratory unit from 68 to 74, we have created additional physical spaces in other areas of hospitals to cater for the increases. We are looking at converting the old Namibia Institute of Pathology near Katutura Intermediate Hospital into a Covid-19 treatment centre," he explained.

Nangombe further said they had requested the Namibian Defence Force to redeploy the field hospital from Okahandja to Khomas [region] as well as for reinforcements from other parts of the country.

"We have requested our region, that are able to do so, to deploy healthcare professionals, nurses and other workers to assist with the situation in Windhoek," he added.

Nangombe also said no cases of the Indian variant had been detected in Namibia as of yesterday, therefore it cannot be the cause of the spike in Covid-19-related deaths.

"The genomic sequencing examination we have done to date has not indicated the presence of that [indian] variant," he said.

He, however, added that the government will put up checkpoints at all ports of entry into Namibia to monitor people entering the country in case they might be infected with that variant.

In addition, he said the ministry has not received the outstanding clinical results for the 62-year-old man who died on Monday last week, shortly after he received the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19.

Specialist at the ministry of health Ishmael Katjitae says Namibia relies on South Africa for a number of commodities including medical supplies. He said as a result, and because of people's movements, it is a matter of time before the country records new variants.

Initially, Namibia's first cases were travel related and imported during the first wave, and later on the country also recorded the South African and the United Kingdom variants.

"Whatever is in one country, will reach another country. It's just a matter of time," he said.

Katjitae said the new variants might partially be responsible for the increasing cases, but it is also dependent on the people's behaviour. He said people are not wearing masks, keeping social distances and sanitising.

"We are constantly doing surveillance on the situation and those variants are partially responsible for the higher numbers as well, but the most important thing is that many people are scared these vaccines are not effective against these variants. However, all the approved vaccines have shown effectiveness against all current variants," he said.

He reiterated that all health protocols should be adhered to to curb the rising numbers and the high deaths, saying the best examples are the United Kingdom and Germany.

PRAYER BEFORE JAB

Namibians would rather kneel and look to the heavens for divine intervention before they get the Covid-19 vaccine, an Afrobarometer survey found.

This was the sentiment of two-thirds (63%) of Namibians spread across regions and urban-rural areas countrywide between 11 December 2020 and 10 February this year.

Despite acknowledging that Covid-19 is a 'very serious' virus, two-thirds of Namibians have indicated that they will seek divine intervention before taking the Covid-19 jab.

Of the interviewees, 77% have indicated that they are worried that the vaccine is unsafe and being tested on Namibians.

Only 8% said prayer is less effective than the vaccine.

These sentiments were also shared by religious leaders who had a consultation meeting with the health ministry.

The survey also showed that more than three out of four citizens are worried that Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers are using ordinary Namibians as guinea pigs to test the safety of their products.

Nangombe said the ministry has been aware of the low supply of medical oxygen.

Yesterday, The Namibian reported that the government is relying on outside supplies to supplement its non-functional in-house oxygen production systems owned by Intaka Technology Namibia.

He added that the ministry has engaged the Global Fund to help upgrade their existing oxygen supply infrastructure.

President Hage Geingob and first lady Monica Geingos have recovered from Covid-19, while three State House employees have died from the virus.

Press secretary Alfredo Hengari confirmed that the president's self-isolation is set to end tomorrow.

"We can confirm that we have regrettably lost three employees due to Covid-19 and five cases are active," Hengari told The Namibian.

The president and the first lady who tested positive for the virus last week have been in isolation since early May.

Hengari said they have a rotational system at the State House to limit congestion.

"And we have always continued to practise efficient Covid-19 protocols and measures," he added

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