Namibia: Covid-19 Isolates Elderly At Villages

AS Covid-19 continues to cause the loss of loved ones, it also separates the living.

Many families avoid close contact with each other to prevent transmitting the virus.

Otilie Haitota of Ongwediva says she has not been able to visit her parents and grandparents, who live at a village, in a long time, because of their vulnerability to Covid-19.

"It is heartbreaking that most of us are unable to visit and care for our elders at villages during this pandemic. Before we used to be able to visit them on weekends to help them with chores, or to work in the fields, but now, because we work at towns where one is more likely to catch Covid-19, we can no longer travel back and forth, because we fear we could pass the virus on to the elderly," she says.

Samson Ndilipunye works as a bartender at Omaala, and says: "I am only here to work, but my actual residence is at Ohalushu, where I have built my house. Everything I make here I take home. Before this pandemic I was able to go home every week, but now it is not easy.

"We have to consider the older people there, because we don't want to give them the virus. One cannot know where and when they got the virus, so even if I feel I may not have it, it could turn out that I have, and that can be dangerous if I take it home to my parents," Ndilipunye says.

Pensioner Esther Erastus (65) from Ongha in the Ohangwena region says although it is painful that her children are not visiting her, she understands their reason for staying away.

"I told my children and grandchildren not to visit me at the village, because it is not safe. I could not get vaccinated due to my high blood pressure and allergies, so I have to take extra measures against this virus. I can't risk having people from outside my household visiting. I miss my grandchildren, but it's just not safe," she says.

Manny Kandjii, a social worker at the Ministry of Health and Social Services, says the isolation the pandemic has caused has resulted in mental health issues among families.

"In an effort to mitigate the further spread of the virus, people are now suffering from mental health issues, such as loneliness, fear, anxiety and stress. Their usual way of connecting with family, friends and neighbours are affected," he says.

Kandjii says older people are more vulnerable to Covid-19 and their recovery may take longer due to their weakened immunity, underlying conditions or an unbalanced diet due to limited resources.

"Thus, it is important for younger people to take precautions to prevent infecting their parents and grandparents," he says.

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