Covid-19 measures adjusted again

Surge in cases

28 May 2021 | Health

Dr Kalumbi Shangula; Health minister; “If we persist in the current way of doing things, we will face further pain, suffering and death.”

Health and social services minister of Dr Kalumbi Shangula announced new measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Namibia.

At the announcement earlier today, Shangula said that the current surge in cases in the country is mainly fuelled by Namibians who are not complying with public health regulations especially when it comes to public gatherings.

“We have observed over the past months that members of the public are flagrantly disobeying the regulations and putting families, our communities and our country at risk.”

The minister implored Namibians to change their behaviour and outlook, collectively and individually, and to take the pandemic seriously.

“If we persist in the current way of doing things, we will face further pain, suffering and death. The choice is ours and I trust that going forward, the nation will do the right thing. Government will not tire and will not relent in imploring the public to behave correctly in a bid to suppress the spread of new infections and return our country to normalcy.”

Worrisome trend

The minister said that over the past 27 days, from 1 May to 27 May, Namibia recorded 5 497 new Covid-19 cases.

“This is an average of 204 new cases a day. During the same period, 152 Covid-19 deaths were recorded, averaging six deaths per day.”

Shangula said that if this trend is not arrested, by a mere extrapolation, Namibia will record an estimated 44 472 new Covid-19 cases and 1 308 new Covid 19 deaths by the end of the year.

He added that the increasing number of cases also exerts pressure on the public health system.

“The increasing number of persons experiencing severe illness means that space in our isolations facilities and intensive care units, in both the public and private sectors, are becoming full. The pressure on the oxygen supply infrastructure has also increased. It is therefore important that people protect themselves so that they do not become sick and end up needing hospitalization.”

Vaccination

By 27 May 2021, 65 037 persons had been vaccinated. The regions with the lowest vaccine uptake are Zambezi, Oshikoto, Omusati and Oshana.

According to the minister, disinformation and conspiracy theories that are being propagated over social media and other platforms are responsible for the observed vaccine hesitancy.

“Government will redouble its efforts to fight this phenomenon, including invoking Section 32 of the Public and Environmental Act of 2015 with regard to offences and penalties.”

New regulations

The minister announced that public gatherings have been reduced from 100 people to 50, for both indoor and outdoor events.

“Public gatherings, including but not limited to weddings, funerals and church events have been shown to be responsible for many infections. Participants in authorised training activities and workshops are encouraged, as far as possible, to participate via virtual platforms.”

The curfew from 22:00 to 04:00 remains in place.

In terms of sporting events, only 50 spectators are allowed.

“It is mandatory for spectators to comply with public health measures at all times. Contact sports are prohibited.”

Travellers

All travellers entering Namibia are required to produce a SARS COV-2 PCR negative result (valid for 7 days from the date of specimen collection).

“Antigen Rapid Diagnostic Test results will no longer be accepted for entry into Namibia. Travellers coming from or transiting through hotspot regions such as India, are required to repeat the SARS CoV2 PCR test 7 days after arrival in Namibia.”

Namibian students studying abroad will be exempted from bearing the cost of Covid-19 tests upon their departure from Namibia for academic purposes, provided that adequate proof is presented.

Travellers returning to Namibia within seven days will not be required to present a negative SARS COV-2 PCR test result from the country of departure.

Any person presenting fake SARS COV-2 PCR test results will be prosecuted. Any non-Namibian who presents fake or forged SARS COV-2 PCR test results to an official at any Port of Entry will be denied entry into Namibia and will be deported at own cost.

Public transport regulations remain unchanged but the sector is implored to strengthen compliance with public health measures in order to suppress the spread of Covid-19 infections.

Deaths and funerals

The regulations pertaining to Covid-19 related deaths and burials also remain unchanged.

“The embalming of human remains of persons who died of notifiable infectious diseases is prohibited. Posthumous re-swabbing of human remains of persons who die of Covid-19 is prohibited, except in specified circumstances as determined by authorized persons.”

The minister noted that Covid-19 infection is not a valid reason to forgo a postmortem/autopsy examination if it is indicated.

“Burial attendees must disperse immediately after the burial service. The congregation of attendees at the residence of the deceased or any other place for the purpose of meals is strongly discouraged. Such gatherings are a fertile ground for Covid-19 transmission.”

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