Battle lines drawn
28 March 2020 | Health
During a media conference in the capital on Friday, President Hage Geingob directed all Government employees as well as those in the State Owned Enterprises and private sector to operate from home for the next two weeks as a measure to combat the further spreading of the Coronavirus (COVID 19), except for those providing critical or essential services.
Categories of persons who are exempted from the lockdown include health workers in the public and private sector, emergency personnel (including paramedics, fire fighters, call centre staff), security services (police, correctional services, traffic officers, military medical personnel, soldiers, immigration and customs, private security services) and other persons necessary for the success of our response to the pandemic.
Persons involved in the production, distribution and supply of goods and food across the agricultural value chain; essential legal, financial and banking services; the maintenance of power, water and telecommunications services; laboratory and veterinary services; refuse removal; the provision of medical and hygiene products; cleaning services; aircraft and cargo handling and engineering; park wardens; social welfare services; humanitarian workers and the media is also exempted from the provisions of the lockdown.
Residents in the restricted areas, including Okahandja and Rehoboth local authority areas are not allowed to leave their homes during the lockdown period, unless such movement by any person in the restricted area is for reasons involving travelling by persons who are exempted from the lockdown, visits to pharmacies, food supply stores, courts, banks and for medical reasons or physical exercise in groups of not more than three persons.
Only one person from a household may visit a store for essential goods and services, at a time. Inside a store, all shoppers must strictly adhere to prescribed social distancing protocols, keeping a distance of 1 metre or more from another person.
Persons are advised to only leave their home when it is absolutely necessary for example to get food, seek medical care or access essential services.
Not more than three persons will be permitted in a 4-seater vehicle and not more than 4 persons will be permitted in a 7-seater vehicle at any given time.
Buses with a carrying capacity of sixteen persons or more, may only load half the number of passengers. The municipal bus services will be suspended, except for those supporting the COVID-19 response.
Not more than two persons per donkey cart and one person per motorbike, bicycle and tricycle is allowed.
Most shops and businesses will be closed, except those classified as essential or critical services. Supermarkets and home kiosks will be allowed to operate during normal trading hours daily to allow residents to provide care for themselves and their families.
The police, military and emergency services will continue to operate.
Health care services such as public and private hospitals, clinics, doctors, pharmacies and laboratories will remain open.
Banks, essential legal, financial, payment services and medical aid funds will operate. Banks are urged to optimize electronic banking channels.
The sale of alcohol, liquor and spirits is strictly prohibited. All open markets, informal trading activities, shebeens, bars, pubs and nightclubs will not be permitted to operate during the lockdown period.
Petrol stations and the forecourt shops will remain open 24-hours.
Restaurants, cafes and coffee shops will remain open but only offer take-away services.
Entities essential for the production and transportation of food, basic goods, medical supplies and their support services will be allowed to operate.
Government urges employers to assign employees to perform their tasks from home in as far as the performance of such tasks from their homes, is possible.
Where the service is essential or critical, employees may be required to come into work. Where the service is not classified as essential or critical, employees will work from home.
Employers should exercise strict caution and ensure only a minimum number of employees are brought, or remain on site, to guarantee that the provision of essential or critical services is not disrupted.
All employees working during this time should observe strict hygiene and adhere to prescribed social distancing protocols at all times.
Persons who are Namibian citizens and residents will be permitted to enter the country. All non-Namibians will not be allowed to enter the country and will be turned back, with exception of humanitarian aid workers and essential or critical services as defined. All Namibians abroad who wish to return home must inform their Embassy or High Commission of their intent to travel, a week before departure. Foreign nationals currently in Namibia (e.g. tourists) planning to return to their respective countries of origin will be permitted to travel back at own cost.
Returning citizens and permanent residents will be subjected to mandatory, supervised quarantine for a period of fourteen (14) days. Persons who are placed under self-quarantine will be monitored. Facilities that satisfy the minimum standard as prescribed under the national guidelines, will be identified and reserved for the purpose of quarantine. All persons identified through contact tracing will be placed under supervised quarantine for a period of fourteen (14) days.
Everybody who is practicing social distancing, and reporting themselves to medical personnel when feeling unwell is contributing greatly to flatten the curve.
Although the lockdown is imposed starting in the Khomas and Erongo regions, conditions on the movement of people, public gatherings and social distancing should be observed across the country.
Any gathering during this period may not exceed more than 10 persons. This includes weddings and funerals. COVID-19 related funerals will be handled by the State. For non-COVID-19 related funerals, organizers are advised to limit the number of attendees to not more than 10 persons.
Those required to travel outside the restricted area for reasons of emergency, may seek authorization from the Regional Director of the respective sector.
Keep a distance of 1 metre or more from another person should be strictly adhered to in all public spaces. It is the responsibility of us all to minimise our movement and avoid large crowds. Everyone have an obligation to cooperate with government to implement these measures.
Violating any of the lockdown regulations is a punishable offence and the penalty for violating the lockdown regulations is a spot fine of N$5 000 or arrest.
Every effort will be made to save Namibian lives. Government is engaged in a social and economic impact assessment and will present a way forward. Social safety net benefits remain in place and disbursements will not be disrupted.
Service providers must ensure appropriate social distancing protocols at all pay points. All channels for access will remain open including ATMs, retail point of sale and cash pay points.
A special fund has been established and all Namibians are encouraged to contribute. Those who wish to make a monetary or in-kind contribution to this Fund can contact Japhet Iitenge at 081 129 7117 or [email protected] or deposit directly into the National Emergency Disaster Fund, Bank Windhoek, Acc. No.: 8000158443, branch code: 481972.
Those who wish to contribute by settling invoices directly have the option to do so. Contact I-Ben Nashandi at 081 128 2008 or [email protected]
Persons will only be tested on the advice of health professionals. Should you feel unwell, with symptoms of a dry cough, high fever and shortness of breath, please call the toll-free number or consult a health facility or community health worker to be advised on what to do.
You will only be tested, if you have been screened by a health professional and found to have symptoms that meet the standard case definition.
Government has had discussions with manufacturers and distributors of basic necessities, who have indicated there will be continuous supply of these goods. There is no need to stockpile food and government calls on everyone in the country to avoid panic buying.
Stay informed by getting the facts. Avoid and do not disseminate rumours and fake news. For authentic information contact the listed Toll-Free Number 0800-100-100 or 911 or your nearest health facility.
Log onto https://convid19esswebsite.firebaseapp.com/home for daily updates, stats and facts.
Visit the following social media accounts for authenticated information:
• Twitter @MoHSS_Namibia and @CDCNamibia
• Facebook: Ministry of Health and Social Services-Namibia
• Instagram: ministryofhealthnamibia
Download the mobile application for Android: “Namibia COVID19”
The lockdown of Khomas and Erongo regions, including Okahandja and Rehoboth will be accompanied by continued public health response to provide screening, testing, contact tracing, quarantine, isolation and medical management.
Residents are encouraged to be active and exercise within their home environment. It is important to stay connected via phone, social media, or email.
Where possible, wear a protective face-mask and gloves. Practice hygiene when you go out. Wash your hands when leaving home and again before departing for home. Carry hand sanitizer at all times and avoid touching your face.
By staying home you are contributing greatly to the fight against the further spread of the disease.
These measures will reviewed regularly as the national response to COVID-19 is scaled up.
The essential services in Namibia, therefore it is hereby announced the following categories are the designated Essential Services in terms of section 77 (4) of the Labour Act, 2007 (Act No 11 of 2007).
1. Ambulance services
2. Casualties services
3. Theatre Services
4. Intensive Care Unit (ICU) services
5. Hospital Wards
6. Laboratory Services
7. Pharmaceutical services
8. Dental Services
9. Radiography services
10. Physiotherapy service
11. Mortuary services
12. Medical services including medical specialized services
13. Hospital Kitchen Services
14. Hospital laundry services
15. Emergency management services
16. Disaster management services
17. Portable water services
18. Waste water Management services
19. Scientific services
20. Electricity distribution services
21. Electricity operation services
22. Electricity maintenance services
23. Electricity transmission services
24. Electricity network operation services
25. Electricity system operation services
26. Electricity system security and planning services
27. Electricity engineering services
28. Electricity energy trading services
29. Air navigation services
30. Air traffic management services
31. Communication navigation and surveillance system services
32. Search and rescue services
33. Aeronautical information services and
34. Meteorological services for air navigation services
List of critical economic services
1. Agriculture, forestry and fishing: Agricultural Production and value chains (Animal husbandry, Agronomic and horticulture) supply related operations, including farming, veterinary and phyto-sanitary provider services, pest control services, feed and chemical and fertilizer remedies providers. Millers and logistics services.
2. Fishing: Vessel and fishing processing plants maintenance and service providers
3. Mining and quarrying related operations to maintain minimal mining operations and critical maintenance work.
4. Manufacturing of health related products, hygiene and sanitary related products, supplies, devices, equipment, and medicines, including complementary health products and supplements; food, non-alcoholic beverages and essential products, as well as essential inputs thereto. This includes production for exporting the same product categories. Production for disposable health and hygiene and sanitary related products, as well as for the production of packaging for essential health and food supply chains. Food, beverages and essential products manufacturing and processing facilities, to the extent they are supporting essential or critical business continuity services to the fight of COVID 19
5. Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply Public and private organizations, their staff and service providers essential to the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning will need to continue to operate. This includes municipalities, and the suppliers of logistics, feedstock and maintenance will be required to continue to operate and provide security of electricity supply.
6. Water supply, purification, desalination; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities Public and private organizations, their staff and service providers essential to the security of supply of bulk and potable water and sanitation must continue to operate and provide vital water and sanitation services. This includes municipalities and those involved in the supply of materials, chemicals and related equipment.
7. Construction and any maintenance support requirements for retailers, manufacturers producing essential goods, support to medical services; plumbing and electrical services, security installations and maintenance, water treatment and sewerage. Building of medical infrastructures and quarantine camps in support of essential or critical business continuity services to the fight of COVID 19
8. Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles Retail, wholesale, supermarkets / home kiosks for food and essential products. Essential hygiene products include: toilet paper, cleaners, sanitizers and disinfectants, personal hygiene products, and essential supplies for those taking care of the sick and elderly and in order for people to remain healthy. All services related to the repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles to continue in as far as are providing support to the fight of COVID 19.
9. Transportation, logistics and storage warehousing, transport, distribution, cold storage and logistics for food & essential products, production inputs and health related goods. This includes operations at all entry points. Humanitarian and relief functions in the fight of COVID 19 will be permitted.
10. Accommodation and food service activities - To the extent that they are supporting essential or critical business continuity services to the fight of the COVID 19 subject to take away and not dinning in restaurants.
11. Information and communication and media services on screen, TV, radio, print, broadcast and online.
12. Legal, Financial, Banking and insurance activities Legal, court, financial, banking and insurance services and health funders required to finance and support essential and critical business continuity and provide short term bridging finance to people and businesses during this period.
13. Professional, scientific and technical activities Professional and artisan services, to the extent that they are providing support in the Covid19 response, essential and critical services.
14. Administrative and support service activities Private and public services to the extent that they are providing support in the Covid19 response, essential and critical business continuity services.
15. Public administration and defence; compulsory social security Personnel to the extent that they are providing support in the Covid19 response, essential and critical business continuity services. Safety and security services protecting people and property.
16. Human health and social work activities All centers providing life and health services; energy, food and water supply, social, transactional, communications, law and order and international critical business continuity services.
17. Information communications technology Data centers, fibre optic infrastructure, towers and antennae will need to operate at high efficiency.